This Memorial Day, as with others, we invite Servicemen and Servicewomen to enjoy a free adult beverage of choice, and to board directly following our Business Select Passengers.
Throughout the year, Southwest hosts Honor Flights all across the nation. These flights carry military veterans to war memorials in Washington, D.C., and provide an unrivaled send-off and return. Military heroes are greeted with an audience of hundreds, cheering, waving flags, and displaying a much-owed respect for those who have sacrificed their lives, those present for the voyage, and for those who will enter the Armed Forces to protect our Freedom.
The following account is from Southwest's own Stephanie Schaller:
Earlier this month, Southwest had the opportunity to “Salute Our Troops” from San Antonio Military Medical Center with a celebratory Vegas getaway for dozens of Wounded Warriors and their guests to enjoy a break from hospitals and doctor visits. When I sat on my Southwest Airlines flight back to Dallas after this amazing event, I had a moment to reflect on the truly humbling trip I just experienced. As you’ll see in this video, I met an amazing group of men and women who serve our country and Protect our Freedom, and I will never forget their sacrifices or their stories.
During one of the nights on the trip, we had a group dinner on the Palazzo® Las Vegas patio sponsored by Omaha Steaks where these brave men and women shared their stories with me and debated which branch is better. As a daughter of a Marine and a granddaughter to two Sailors, I tried my best to represent both branches, but was outnumbered by the soldiers (Army) in the group!
I really enjoyed playing electronic roulette with one of the heroes and now my new friend Josh, who shared with me his "strategy" he learned the last time he was in Vegas. It worked by the way, as we both won and I plan on using it for the future! I was even able to take my $20 and turn it into $40! Thanks, Josh!
Another hero, James, and the rest of us enjoyed dancing our hearts out at LAVO and showing the club the best way to "Party Like a Rockstar!" James shared with me that he hadn’t had that much fun in a long time!
Even though I couldn’t pick a favorite, I think these experiences combined are what made this trip so special and meaningful to me. I’d be lying if I said the stories these heroes shared with me didn’t change my life and offer new perspective about things that are worth fighting for—our Freedoms. Now, since some things that happen in Vegas usually need to stay there, here are a few stories from my new hero friends.
Specialist James, U.S. Army
Even though we had very little sleep the entire trip, it was nice to feel appreciated. The VIP experience at the club, enjoying the musical influence of the Blue Man Group, and having a little last minute luck ($$$) right before we left are just some of the activities that come to mind during my trip to Vegas. It was also nice to be able to experience this with my brother and fellow Solider. Getting off the plane was extremely overwhelming because I didn’t realize how much people cared; not all cities have military support like this! Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible. I can’t wait to go back!
Specialist Josh, U.S. Army
Even though I am not in an ideal situation right now of being in the hospital, it was nice to get away to the city that never sleeps and act our age! We were able to get away and cut loose. Not to mention I tried every kind of food there--now that’s a buffet! They even shut down the pool, which gave us time to relax, be away from the crowd, and enjoy each other’s company.
I am very flattered by the amount of people who came out to show their support at the airport and when we arrived at the Palazzo Hotel; I almost didn’t want to get off the bus! I was able to bring a friend from my old unit in Germany who was there since there is always something to do! Even though I had been to Vegas a few times previously, this by far was the best, so thanks to everyone who helped coordinate this.