WASHINGTON, D.C. - In honor of Veterans Day, Ford Motor Company recognizes more than 30 Michigan veterans for their service in World War II.
“This is a small gesture in recognition of the service and bravery of these soldiers some 70 years ago,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund. “For many, this will be their first visit to the national memorial dedicated in their honor.”
After the Dearborn High School marching band performed "Pomp and Circumstance," Alan Mulally, president and CEO, Ford, and Mike Bannister, chairman and CEO of Ford Credit, helped send the veterans on their way to Washington, D.C. to visit the WWII Memorial.
One of the veterans, George Leland, Garden City, Mich., said the warm reception they received was more than he expected.
"I didn't receive this kind of treatment when I came home from the war," said Leland. "This is great that Ford is doing this for the vets."
This was the first of two Honor Flights to the WWII Memorial that Ford Fund is sponsoring for WWII veterans.
"I always wanted to see the memorial but never had a chance to plan the trip," said Frank Knoop, Holland, Mich., who was on a destroyer in the pacific for three years. "I'm very grateful to Ford for doing this."
For other veterans, like Jack Little, WWII prisoner of war, the trip wasn’t only an act of honor – it was a chance to reminisce and reflect with others who share a similar life experience.
"We all served in different parts of the world in WWII but today we have a chance to share our stories, only vets can comprehend the experiences of other vets," he said.
Upon touchdown in Baltimore, hundreds of service men and women lined up to greet the vets and display their gratitude.
At the memorial they were then greeted by Michigan Sens. Debbie Stabenow, Carl Levin and Representatives Bill Huizenga and Sandy Levin – also on hand was Elizabeth Dole who stood in for her husband and WWII veteran Bob Dole.
"I can't believe all of this is for us, this is great," said Little.
Ford has a long history of supporting veterans and military personnel – with donations totaling more than U.S. $6 million since 1974. The next flight, for Kentucky veterans, will take off on June 6, D-Day.
To view more photos from the Pride and Honor Flight to the WWII Veterans Memorial, please click the link to our Ford in the Community page on flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/fordcommunity/sets/.
This is just the latest chapters in Ford's long history of supporting veterans and military personnel. Ford’s relationship with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) began in 1922, when Henry Ford organized a cross-country caravan of 50 Model T’s to take disabled veterans to their convention in San Francisco.
Since 1974, Ford Motor Company and Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services have provided more than $6 million to veterans’ organizations, and since 1996 Ford has donated 156 vehicles totaling approximately $4 million to the DAV Transportation Network. Each year Ford sponsors the DAV’s winter sports clinic and has supported the DAV’s youth scholarship volunteer program since 2000.
Ford Motor Company received the 2011 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award in recognition of the support it provides its National Guard and Reserve employees.
Continuing to honor the veterans for their service, The Ford Veterans Network Group is sponsoring a ceremonial event Friday, Nov. 11 in the WHQ Auditorium, click here for additional event info.