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Zach's Homecoming: A Hero's Welcome

miler
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It was a bright sun shining day when over 100 Southwest Airlines employees arrived at the Creekwood Subdivision in Fort Worth, a Hillwood Development.  

They unloaded the buses and Southwest’s VP Jeff Lamb, and I welcomed them to their service day.  This amazing group gathered to put on an official “Welcome Home” ceremony and community BBQ together for Marine Corporal Zach Briseno, who lost both legs in an IED explosion in Iraq.  

Cpl

Since losing both legs, Zach has had a tough time adjusting to his new life.  He is no longer able to serve in the Marines and is a single Dad to 5-year-old Eli.  As he pondered his future, he hoped to one day own a home.  HelpingaHero.org made his dreams come true!

HelpingaHero.org is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) whose primary mission is to build homes for severely injured heroes who were wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Zach’s home is the 25th home completed through their program and 6 more are under construction and a final one is being planned now.  On August 30th, another 15 homes will be awarded at their National Gala where Laura Bush will be the Keynote Speaker and receive their “Patriot Award”.

The day started out with putting out flags throughout the community and preparing for the hundreds of expected guests.  Around 11:00am, over 600 people had gathered and the parade kicked off led by Miss Rodeo Texas Celesta Harvey and Miss Harris County Rodeo Texas Teen Eric Lloyd, who have co-founded Queens for Troops benefitting HelpingaHero.org.

The Saginaw Fire Department, reps from Soldiers Angels, Kids R Kids, Southwest Airlines and a group of home recipients from HelpingaHero.org all preceded Zach and his family.

Parade

As the parade approached the beautiful four-bedroom Standard Pacific home, the crowd erupted with cheers and waving of flags as they welcomed this hero home.  Mayor Mike Moncrief greeted Cpl Briseno flanked by SGT Eddie Wright, a double-arm amputee Marine, and Captain Dan Moran, who is burned over 60% of his body and is also a Marine.  After the Pledge led by the Kids R Kids Pre K class and SGT Wright, the Miss Rodeo Texas queens led the National Anthem.

Chris Matzke who is the Division President of Standard Pacific Homes shared about all the adaptations made to Zach’s home…from lower counters, a roll in shower, a roll under sink, flush thresholds, accessible attic space,  a safety sidewalk wrapping the home, and so many other things to make Zach’s life a little easier when he isn’t wearing his prosthetic legs and must be in his wheelchair.  And a special thanks to the Semper Fi Fund for donating $25,000 towards the home to make certain Zach had everything he needed.

Spark Energy surprised Zach with the news that they will donate one year of free electricity and Conn’s donated the refrigerator and washer/dryer.  And another highlight of the day is that Rooms to Go donated the furniture in the home. 

After I joined with others to officially present Cpl Zach Briseno with the keys to his new home, he took the media on a tour of his home while the 600+ guests all headed to the community pool for a Bar B Que and lots of fun activities for the kids coordinated by Southwest Airlines.

Rudy’s BBQ donated the food and everyone had a great time eating the wonderful sausage and brisket, baked beans, potato salad, and all the great cookies and desserts. 

What an amazing day!!  The sun was shining, the breeze was blowing…and Zach got to sigh a big sigh and know he is HOME…

Please visit HelpingaHero.org to nominate a severely wounded hero injured in Iraq or Afghanistan whom you think is deserving of a new home.

32 Comments
kikodelgado
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Thank you for your service........and sacrifice.... USS BLOG BOY
Kevin111
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Nice Publicity... in reality, our daughter tried to get home on Southwest Airlines last night to see her brother who is in the Navy and was home for the first time since his enlistment. She was not allowed on her plane at Fort Meyers because the connecting flight at Chicago would not be met. I was told because there were only 3 passengers involved, Southwest would not hold the flight from Chicago even 20 minutes. To compound the problem, no compensation was provided because it was a "weather" issue. ... she was left stranded in Fort Meyers and her brother was here in Cleveland. Nice "Patriotic" try Southwest, but actions are more important than words and press releases......
Monica_Rodrigue
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Thank you Southwest for supporting our troops! I have to say that I had bought my brother a round trip ticket to come visit with me before he deployed. He was not able to use a portion of the ticket. Thankfully Southwest was nice enough to issue myself the credit with the knowledge that he was going to be in Iraq for the upcoming year. So I would just like to say Thank you for being so flexible. Regards, IT1 Monica Rodriguez
Cathy_Zanchelli
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Thank you Southwest for saying you support the Military and their families...well show us the $! Where are the military discounts and how about Veterans and their families who have already served? Not that I think every corporation owes Veterans and active duty military a discount but if your going to boast about supporting troops and families then show it not just in advertisments to boast your company. I always fly Southwest , I do like your company but fair is fair. Anybody can say they "Support" our troops you have to acually show it if you mean it!
Delma_Caunday
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It is amazing to us the extent how Southwest shows their appreciation and support for all our troops. By providing special programs, military discounts and even acknowledging the troops on the intercom during flights, this lets our soldiers know that someone cares about them. Recently my husband and I flew to Denver in May to see our daughter as she deployed to Afghanistan. It was difficult for us to watch her leave, but we will always be appreciative of the time we had with her before she left. Southwest made this trip possible for us. Thank you for supporting our troops, Frank and Dee
Della_V_
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That is a touching and beautiful story about welcoming our hero Marine Corporal Zach Briseno with an appropriate home and a celebration. It speaks eloquently of "supporting our troops" through meaningful actions. I am proud of Zach and his fellow warriors; as well, I am pleased to be associated (as a loyal customer) with Southwest Airlines because of your service with HelpingHeroes. Thank you and God Bless America!
George_L_Rothma
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The donation of a home to needy injured or disabled vets is a great idea. It would be a good thing for the banks to donate some homes that are not salable at present and get them off their rolls as a writeoff.
Annie_Kissee_
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Makes me feel so proud to be a frequent flyer of Southwest. Thanks to Southwest for all they are doing to help our great American heroes ! God Bless ! ....Annie
carol_wells
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What an awesome story. I love the way our country is helping our young men and women who have served our country to secure our freedom and keep us safe. They have given the ultimate sacrifice and deserve our contributions. Way to go Southwest.
Arleen_Delgado
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My daughter is an Iraq Operation Freedom vet and my my son-in-law was recently wounded in Afghanistan. Thank God his physical injuries were not as severe ast Cpl. Briceno's and he is now home as well! As parents and relatives of service personnel, we rely heavily on the big corporations to do things for our soldiers that we couldn't do alone. Thank you, Southwest, for all you do for our armed forces!
Kathi_Carlson
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I work at the RDU airport in North Carolina; I can vouch for all the many Southwest employees that work there; each and every one do all within their power to make each customer's trip very successful. I am thrilled each time I get to travel on SWA to see family or vacation somewhere. I've also flown when there were 'weather' issues; I'd rather arrive safe than not at all; sometimes the airport has last word on what planes come and go, not the airlines. Sorry you had a tough time getting your daughter home, sir, but, well, this morning at 9:45AM, we had a USO-HST planeside memorial service for a young Army soldier that passed away. The NC National Guard removed his body from the hearse onto to underbelly of the SWA plane. Southwest went out of their way to see that our memorial service went off to perfection. I shall always respect our military, especially when I can honor their last flight here on Earth, their last time the family can spend with their soldier. Sincerely, Kathi C. USO-RDU, Honors Support Team
From_the_Southw
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There is always someone that will complain about anything no matter what it is. Why should they hold a plane for 3 people in a connection flght??? Good work Southwest our favorite way to fly. Thanks again for being involved in our help for those who have served our country. Thanks.
Albert_Luppo
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Once in a while a company comes along NOT seeking to publisize it's own worth in the community, BUT, to instill the proper worth of the individual in the community to come forward and help where help is needed. Southwest Airlines DID NOT do this endeavor to profit, BUT, to share with the community and to HONOR a HERO in one small way that may be helpful towards his recovery and his families future. Many companies in the community came forward and donated items needed to fullfill this mission. From a U.S. Air Force Veteran and an American who SALUTES this young marine= Cpl Zach Briseno Semper Fi
gayle_mcdonald
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Thank you Southwest for doing what the government is not doing for the vets. They have sacrificed so much and come back to live on very little pay (while the legislators vote themselves a raise). I think it's shameful. It does my heart good to see some due reward for a veteran in this way. I hope more homes can be built.
Lori_White
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This is pure class! Thank you, Southwest Airlines and congratulations on a mission so deserving. About 6 years ago, I was on a flight from Burbank to Spokane over the 4th of July weekend. On landing, over the PA system and all through the plane, the crew & passengers broke into singing God Bless America. I wrote a letter to Southwest expressing my appreciation and received a personal reply from the President of Southwest. You're all a class organization & my choice of airlines every time. Keep up the good work. God bless you all & I'll send this information along to everyone I know. Lori White Hayden, ID
Pam_E_Godin
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I am a Proud Marine Mom and I would like to Thank Southwest for all you do for Our Service Men and Women....You do offer Military Discounts for those serving and their families and that has afforded me more than one flight to go and meet my son who was coming home from his deployments!! You show Our Service Men and Women nothing BUT RESPECT while they are on your flights and I have NOT FLOWN any other airline other than Soutwest and I never will!! This story was a wonderful, heartwarming story...Thank You for Sharing it and Keep Up the Great Work...Thank You from the Bottom of My Heart for all you Do..................
Fae_McDaniel
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the daughter that did not get home at the exact time blog was a bit selfish in the fact that is not the purpose in airlines to accomodate all the relatatives. As with all nice things done for the right reason there has to be the one's that only think of themselves. Considering all the problems with the airline industry, there names stand out but they make a living just like most people. Money in and money out and often their is no money in. Thank them for what they do.
D_Sims
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God Bless You Southwest for ALL the good you do for others when the need arrives. I am 80 years old and my deceased Mother always told me," If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all". My family and I have always been pleased, satisified and happy with any and all flights we have taken with you. God Bless all our service men and women who have served our country without whinning or complaining and too many of them making the ultimate sacrifice for all of US. God Bless Southwest and all the others that participated in providing a home for this young man. dsims
Frank_Cajar
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On 27 May I had the pleasure of flying Southwest 612 from Reno to Portland for the Memorial Day holiday. I'm a Viet Nam veteran (USN 1965-69) and I was wearing a hat with the name of the carrier I served on during that time. As I entered the plane I was greeted by the First Officer and one of the Flight Attendants with "Thank You! We appreciate your service" and a handshake from the First Officer. As you may know. many of the men and women serving in SE Asia during that time were subject to a less-than-warm welcome when they returned to US soil after their tour, I being one of them. Just know that even though 40-plus years have passed, the kind words from people such as your flight crew do not go unnoticed and are appreciated beyond words... ask any vet. Southwest doesn't just "Talk the Talk" when it comes to support for our troops; you prove that every day and I will always call you first when I need to travel! Frank C. Reno, NV
Cindy10
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In this day & time where we seem to be helping other countries instead of our own - thank you Southwest for doing this for our troops who give up & of their lives for us. I applaud what you do & applaud this gentleman & family for their sacrifice. P.S.: To the person with the gripe - you should be ashamed of yourself for airing your grievance on this venue.
Linda_Vine
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Way to go Southwest! You've been my airlines for many, many years. As a Navy veteran I salute you for honoring our American heroes!
thomas_garvin
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As a Viet Nam veteran I am am extremely pleased to see corporations like Southwest Airlines supporting our troops. These men and women who have served , especially those that have been injured, deserve "extra " attention and gratitude from our country. It's corporations like South- west that make me proud to be a citizen of the United States and a faithful customer of Southwest., Thank you men and women of the military and you too Southwest. Keep up the good work, Tom
Rita_Lyons
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Thank you Southwest for your service and all that you do for OUR MILITARY. I travel Southwest every few months to visit my son who is a Marine and his family to San Diego CA- I won't fly any other airlines! Rita- God Bless
Robin_Carrigan
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Since when do you hear of Any Airlines holding up flights for Any number of ppl? Then you risk more ppl missing flights. 100 Employees driving all the way to Fort Worth means sooo much more than the publicity. Way to go Southwest!
Tom38
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Thank you, Southwest, for helping our wounded military. My son is a Marine, and I hope and pray we never need any assistance like this. But it is comforting to know that once our military become injured that there are people who will assist them getting back to a more normal life. And to those who day in and day out volunteer to guard our coasts, fight our wars, and police the rest of the world against tyranny - THANK YOU. Were it not for those who fought and died, I would likely be speaking German or Japanese right now . . .
Eileen_Ryan
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Just another reason I ONLY fly Southwest........and my family too! Thanks to all at Southwest and for all the good deeds you do.......sorry about the gal that was left, BUT-think of the hundreds of others that would be affected if the plane waited 20 minutes for everyone.........??? Eileen
Linda_Wise
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A message to Sandra Martin and Kevin: Your anger is misplaced. Your suffering is real but clouds the good done by others and is hurting you and those you love more than anything else can. Take a moment to notice the good in life the good done by other individuals and corporations (like Southwest Airlines). For instance . . . count the comments here where you have posted. Calculate the ratios of good to yours. You and your families are appreciated, as are those of every military family. Your anger, pain and disappointment may have stuffed your ears from hearing. I'd like to say, from the depths of my heart, Thank you for your family's part in serving our great country. That means the servicemen and women and their extended families and friends. We are all impacted by that service. I, too, am the wife and ex-wife of disabled Viet Nam vetererans. My current husband is 100% permanently disabled. I can tell you from personal experience that the best gift you can give your family and yourself is to release the anger and grief. May you find the peace of Christ and may God fully bless you.
Capt_C
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I have been Air Force for almost 18 years and I dont fly/travel with any other airline but Southwest... Due to the fact that I have to travel alot to visit family members/friends since the Air Force keeps us moving. Southwest allows me to change at last minute with no charge and not have to pay for my bags... and they always have such a great attitude/smile when I fly with them-seems like that would be challenging in the airline business. This effort just makes me love you more Southwest and even more loyal to fly with you. These military members that have made so many sacrifices really deserve the benefits this helpingahero.org has advocated for them. Thank you Southwest for your efforts and thank you to all my brothers and sisters who serve!
Veronica_Allen
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Thank you southwest for a wonderful way to support our heroes! I think you are wonderful! We always fly Southwest!!!
Margie_Barry
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Kevin, So sorry to hear about your misfortune. But as someone who worked in the airline industry for many years (not Southwest, unfortunately) I can tell you that this is a very difficult call for airlines. By holding that plane for the three connecting people, including your daughter, even more problems can occur. Pilots and flight attendants are flying the next day, and only have so much flying time allowed by law. This flying time can include the time on the ground, depending on the airline. So the action of holding the flight, even just a little, might affect literally hundreds of people the next day, when the pilots are out of flying time and can't begin their day on time. It's an unfortunate rollover effect, but it's reality. Also, there might have been others on your daughter's connecting flight who were trying to make their own connections. Unfortunately, weather affects airline schedules, and because of this, airlines cannot be held accountable for weather delays. None of them would be in business if they were. Again, I am sorry for your misfortune and pray your son returns safely. Thank you that you raised a son who is offering his service to our country.
Nanette_Baird
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Thank you. Your little boys face says just how I feel, glad to have a hero amongst us returning safely. I appreciate what you represent, a true American. I hope life from here on is gifted for you and your family. It was family that made such a big sacrifice, the biggest of all. Welcome home soldier. Xox
Sandy_Linde
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I can't believe someone would expect an airline to hold a flight for 20 minutes. As mentioned above, the chain reaction could have resulted in hours of delays. I fly often and have been doing so for years. For the past 4 years, I only fly Southwest; if they don't fly there neither do I. I;ve only experienced 1 flight delay with SW and can't same the same for Continental/Delta, American and United! Keep up the good work Southwest!