ATLANTA — Dozens of veterans are on their way to a life-changing trip just a few days after Memorial Day to commemorate the U.S. D-Day Invasion.
On Wednesday, 29 World War II veterans boarded a Delta charter flight to Normandy, France. The trip is part of a week-long program of events hosted by the Best Defense Foundation to mark the 78th year since the June 6 Normandy landings. Each WWII veteran is partnered with a Delta Air Lines employee who also served in the military, according to organizers.
Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines is one of the sponsors of the trip and is providing a direct route. Veterans took off from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport Wednesday night and are expected to arrive at Deauville Airport. It marks the first time a U.S. passenger airline will fly directly to Normandy, according to event organizers.
“The mission of the Best Defense Foundation is ‘taking care of those who took care of us,’” Donnie Edwards the organization's founder said. “Through this amazing partnership with Delta Air Lines, we are able to accomplish this mission and provide these heroes with the opportunity to reconnect with their brothers, honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and celebrate the liberation of an ally.”
Delta leaders said much of the company's foundation was bolstered by WWII service members and pilots in the early years of its establishment. Knowing how those who served impacted the company, leaders remain committed to supporting veterans and active members of the military.
Capt. Dan Bauer, of Delta's Veteran Resource Group, will be honoring his grandfather, who served as a B-24 Pilot in the Army Air Corps in WWII and who inspired him to become an Air Force pilot, airline leaders said.
“We are meeting, connecting and sharing camaraderie with these incredible veterans and making this more than just a journey back to the battlefield,” Bauer said.