DFW International Airport Expands Founders Plaza Exhibit Honoring Thousands of “Welcome Home A Hero” Volunteers
DFW contractor partners donate and build new exhibit
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport dedicated two new displays at DFW’s Founders Plaza airport observation area today honoring the over 500 local corporate, business and community organizations and the thousands of volunteers who took part in the “Welcome Home A Hero” program to personally greet incoming troops at DFW when the formal program was in operation from 2004 through 2012. The new exhibits include a commemorative center detailing the accomplishments of the volunteer greeter program, expanded information about DFW Airport, as well as an interactive fountain recreating the Airport’s “shower of affection” water cannon salutes over incoming aircraft.
In eight years, the “Welcome Home A Hero” volunteers greeted over 920,000 soldiers at DFW Airport, either on arrival from or departure to their military deployments. More than 10,000 local volunteers and over 500 corporate and business groups took part in the greeter program, making it one of the largest community service projects ever accomplished in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
“The Welcome Home A Hero volunteers made it their collective mission to extend a warm welcome to our military troops coming home through DFW Airport,” said Sean Donohue, CEO of DFW Airport. “It wasn’t the Airport, and it wasn’t any particular organization or any single person that made this work so well. It was the spirit and commitment of the community, corporations and businesses, and the selflessness and giving of individuals that led to the success of this program that brought volunteers to DFW twice a day, every day for eight years. That’s what we pay tribute to today. And we thank the contractors and individuals here today who contributed to these new exhibits.”
Taking part in the dedication ceremony were Brigadier General David MacEwen, the Adjutant General of the United States Army, as well as Phil Parisi, the chief financial officer of the United Service Organization (USO). A group of U.S. military Medal of Honor recipients and wounded warriors also attended.
Several DFW construction contractor partners collaborated to donate much of the materials and build the new displays, including Manhattan Construction, Balfour Beatty Construction, Jacobs Engineering and U.S. Shade/NEXREF Technologies.
The Founders Plaza exhibits also include opportunities for the general public to purchase commemorative bricks that can be engraved with names or personal messages.
“It’s critical for us all to remember that the mission continues, that our troops continue to need our support,” said Jim Crites, executive vice president for operations at DFW Airport. “With these displays, we hope to inspire more and continuing support for the U.S.O. and for many other organizations that support our men and women in uniform.”
The “Welcome Home Hero” program initiated the U.S.O. facility at DFW Airport, and this facility has remained in operation serving troops as they transit through DFW on their way to and from overseas deployments. DFW still hosts about 100,000 individual troops annually on their travels between the United States and the Middle East, even after the departure of the last chartered Army rest and recuperation (R&R) flight.
Over the life of the program, “Welcome Home A Hero” program volunteers greeted inbound and outbound soldiers on a total of 2700 flights and donated generously to the U.S.O facility that opened at DFW in 2004.
In January 2012, the U.S. Army Human Resources Command announced it would end the daily R&R charters into DFW and the last flights for the R&R program took place in March of that year.
“The expansion at Founders Plaza is intended to celebrate heroes – our military and the citizen heroes who welcomed them back home each day,” said Donohue. “DFW is proud to support our military as they travel through our Airport and even more proud that DFW can be a place for a caring, comfortable send-off and a most welcoming return.”
The new Welcome Home A Hero exhibits are open to the public at Founders Plaza, DFW’s observation park, which is located at Texan Trail and North Airfield Drive, just south of Texas State Highway 114.
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