MIA Hosts Honor Flight for 78 World War II Veterans

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Miami International Airport, in partnership with Honor Flight South Florida and Eastern Air Lines, hosted its third Honor Flight for 78 World War II veterans on Saturday, October 29.

Honor Flight at Miami International Airport.

These brave men and women were truly the greatest generation. They fought for the many freedoms we enjoy today and deserve events like the Honor Flight that salute their service.

Miami International Airport, in partnership with Honor Flight South Florida and Eastern Air Lines, hosted its third Honor Flight for 78 World War II veterans on Saturday, October 29. The Honor Flight event culminated with a homecoming at MIA, where more than 1,500 South Floridians gathered to take part in a receiving line that included local residents of all ages, local elected officials and members of the U.S. military, numerous honor guards, airport employees and passengers.

“It was an honor for the County family to thank our local veterans for all that they did for the cause of freedom,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “America’s greatest generation earned every bit of that title through their selfless, heroic actions at home and abroad.”

“Many of these veterans never received a homecoming like this,” said Miami-Dade County Commissioner José “Pepe” Diaz and Chairman of the Miami-Dade Military Affairs Board. “As a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, I’m proud to support MIA, Honor Flight South Florida and Eastern Air Lines to provide these deserving heroes with such a memorable experience.”

Among the dignitaries in attendance to honor the veterans were: U.S. Senator Marco Rubio; Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart; Congressman Carlos Curbelo; Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez; Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo, Jr.; Miami-Dade County Commissioner José “Pepe” Diaz; Miami-Dade County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa; Miami-Dade County Military Advisory Board Director Gustavo Cruz; Lieutenant General Joseph P. DiSalvo, Military Deputy Commander, U.S. Southern Command; Sergeant Major William B. Zaiser, Command Senior Enlisted Leader, U.S. Southern Command; Brigadier General Kevin M. Iiams, Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South; Sergeant Major Thomas G. Eggerling, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South; Marine Corps Brigadier General Paul J. Rock, Jr., Director of Strategy, Policy, and Plans Directorate, U.S. Southern Command; and Chief Master Sergeant Donald Bailey, U.S. Air Force.

After departing MIA Saturday morning on Eastern Air Lines flight #1941 (named for the year that the U.S. entered World War II), the 78 living legends received tours of the World War II memorial and other military sites in the nation’s capital. On the return trip aboard flight #1945 (the last year of the war), more than 2,000 personalized thank-you letters collected at MIA from airlines, federal agencies and other airport tenants, as well as from local school children and civic organizations, were distributed to the veterans during a traditional “mail call” for deployed soldiers. The Miami-Dade Aviation Department spearheaded the letter-writing campaign and gained support from dozens of airport and community partners.

“We’re extremely honored to host a second Honor Flight at MIA this year,” said Miami-Dade Aviation Director Emilio T. González. “These brave men and women were truly the greatest generation. They fought for the many freedoms we enjoy today and deserve events like the Honor Flight that salute their service.”

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Greg Chin
Miami International Airport
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