DEARBORN/LOUISVILLE – On the 68th anniversary of D-Day – the landing of 150,000 Allied troops on Nazi-fortified beaches in Normandy – Ford Motor Company Fund is sponsoring two Honor Flights for about 75 World War II veterans from Michigan and Kentucky to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. The trips are organized as part of the Honor Flight Network.
“As a veteran myself, I am honored to join these outstanding Americans who bravely served our country in World War II on their visit to the national World War II Memorial," said John Savona, plant manager, Ford Louisville Assembly Plant. "This historic anniversary is a fitting reminder of the challenges they overcame and the sacrifices they made on behalf of future generations."
Ford Fund also is announcing a $200,000 grant for the purchase of eight vehicles to the Disabled American Veterans Transportation Network, bringing to 164 the total number of Ford vehicles in the DAV fleet for transporting disabled veterans. This is in addition to $50,000 in grants for DAV’s Winter Sports Clinic and the Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarship Program. The No. 21 Ford Fusion driven by Trevor Bayne at a NASCAR Memorial Day weekend race sported the DAV logo in honor of Ford’s longstanding partnership with DAV, which includes more than $6.5 million in donations since 1996.
The veterans, all in their late 80s and 90s, and their guardians are receiving a festive airport send-off from Ford employees and others. After arrival in Washington, D.C., the veterans are being greeted by members of Congress and Ford employees at the Memorial, and receiving letters of appreciation from Ford employees, family members and others.
“The sacrifice and bravery of these soldiers serve as a lesson for all of us,” said Mike Bannister, Ford Motor Credit Company chairman and CEO, and champion of the Ford Veterans Network Group. “It is particularly fitting to acknowledge their service on the anniversary of D-Day, a crucial point in the war that took such a high toll on our troops.”
Ford Motor Company has a long history of supporting veterans and military personnel, starting in 1922 when Henry Ford led a cross-country caravan of 50 Ford Model Ts to transport disabled veterans to their convention in San Francisco, his first of many such trips.
“Ford is one of our nation’s great institutions, and for 90 years they’ve honored the brave heroes who have sacrificed for our nation,” said DAV National Adjutant Arthur H. Wilson. “There is something uniquely American about the commitment and loyalty they’ve shown our cause and we’re grateful for our partnership which has made a difference for generations of veterans and their families.”
Since 1974, Ford Motor Company and Ford Fund have provided more than $7.3 million to organizations supporting veterans, including the DAV. Ford Fund’s support of local initiatives for veterans in 2012 includes:
• Operation Goodwill Louisville grant of $10,000 for Interlink Counseling Services that provides a variety of services to veterans
• Creation of green space for a rooftop healing garden at the VA Medical Center in Detroit by Ford Volunteer Corps participants with supplies bought with a $5,000 Ford grant
• Purchase of gasoline by Ford Fund for one year for food delivery vehicles at Meals on Wheels of Greater San Diego where 40 percent of its meal recipients are veterans, and sorting and delivering food by Ford Volunteer Corps participants for Veteran’s Haven in Detroit
• Operation Goodwill San Diego grants for Veterans Village of San Diego’s combat warrior program, which provides discharged service members with rent, utilities and food during substance abuse and mental illness treatment; and for Reboot Workshops by National Veterans Transition Services for service members transitioning back to civilian life
The Ford Veterans Network Group, one of Ford’s corporately supported Employee Resource Groups, sponsors activities throughout the year in support of its veterans, military personnel and their families. Ford has about 30 U.S. employees actively serving in the military and employs about 700 U.S. Reservists and Guardsmen, along with more than 7,000 U.S. veterans.
Ford Motor Company received the Secretary of Defense Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve’s Freedom Award in 2011 for its assistance to Ford employees in the National Guard and Reserve. It is the highest honor bestowed by the Department of Defense for America’s employers who provide exceptional support to their employees.
Maxwell Nadis of Commerce Township, Mich., left; Frank Serridge (90) of Milford, Mich., center; and Sam Mackey (94) of Clarkston, Mich., right, prepare to board a Ford Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. and the World War II Memorial.