D-Day, 73 Years Later - United Hub
Employee Travel Blog

D-Day, 73 years later

By The Hub team, May 26, 2017

Network Planning and Scheduling Analyst Matthew Falkler

Since I was in middle school, I have been fascinated with American history, specifically about World War II. For years, I have imagined traveling to where this history actually took place and one of my top places was Normandy, France. Normandy was the landing site of the Allied liberation of Europe, which occurred on June 6, 1944. It was called Operation Overlord, more notoriously know as D-Day. Finally, I decided to make this trip happen and it did not disappoint.

Coast of France in Normandy

After flying into Paris Airport and checking out the many sites of the City of Light, I took a train to Carentan the next day. I booked a tour, through a company called Bayeux Shuttle, which I highly recommend, that timed nicely for a day trip from Paris in which they pick you up and drop you off at the train stations. From Carentan we made our first stops to Airborne sites. In the very early morning hours of D-Day, Army Airborne Division Paratroopers dropped behind enemy lines with numerous objectives to support the Allied beach landings which would occur just hours later. Our stops included a twelfth century church in Angoville-au-Plain, which was made into an aid station by two 101st Airborne Medics, and a famous battle site called Brécourt Manor which was featured in the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers."

Inside of the Angoville-au-Plain church in Normandy

Our tour group then proceeded to Utah Beach, one of the five beach sectors the Allies stormed and one of the two where American troops landed. We arrived at low tide and our tour guide told us low tide extends the beach to a few hundred yards in length. The landing had to happen at low tide, meaning our soldiers would have to run even farther to secure the beaches because the Germans strategically placed mines and obstacles aimed to stop a high tide invasion as part of their Atlantic Wall. Utah Beach had very nice monuments, a visitor's center and Le Roosevelt Café, named after the famous General Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who led the first wave of troops that landed on Utah Beach. The tour continued to another famous Airborne site, a church in the town of Sainte-Mère-Église. The town became the first officially liberated by the Allies in France.

After a scenic break for lunch, we went to Pointe du Hoc. This is where Army Rangers scaled cliffs 85-100 feet straight up to eliminate German artillery. President Ronald Reagan made his famous 40th Anniversary of D-Day speech at Pointe du Hoc. This was my favorite stop because not much was developed around this area, preserving the history of the war. You can go inside German bunkers and still see how the Allied bombing runs shifted the landscape of the terrain. We then went to Omaha Beach (if you have seen the movie "Saving Private Ryan," that is where they depicted the opening war scene). Omaha Beach saw the fiercest fighting of the invasion as it housed heavy defenses along with well-trained German soldiers.

The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

Our final stop was the most moving of the tour -- the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial located right off the coast of Omaha Beach. Nearly 10,000 American men and women were laid to rest here along with a wall dedicated to the Missing in Action. I am glad we spent the most time of the tour at the memorial because having time to reflect is an important part of the experience.

Touring Normandy was an incredible experience, something I will never forget. Honestly, I wish I had more time to walk around and explore. Whether you know much about the war or not, I recommend touring Normandy to anyone. It truly is a humbling experience and reinforces the sacrifices made by the Greatest Generation. This country sacrificed so much to liberate the world from tyranny and oppression and that never should be forgotten.

Making our app more accessible for people with disabilities

By The Hub team, October 28, 2020

We're proud to launch a redesigned version of our United app to make it easier for customers with visual disabilities to manage all aspects of day-of travel, including check-in, viewing reservation details and flight status, bag tracking and more.

This latest version of our app is now available to both Android and iOS users, and it offers increased color contrast and more space between graphics. Furthermore, we have reorganized how information is displayed and announced to better integrate with screen reader technologies like VoiceOver and TalkBack, which are built into most handheld devices. By restructuring the way the information is organized on the app, screen readers are better able to convert text to audio in the proper, logical sequence, allowing customers to better understand and navigate the app.

United Zoom backgrounds for AvGeeks

By The Hub team, October 27, 2020

Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Take your next video call from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude with United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Newly added to our collection is a background encouraging our employees and customers to vote. Our mission is to connect people and unite the world — and one of the most important ways to do that is to engage in the democratic process. No matter which party you support, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and vote.

So for your next meeting or catch up with friends and family, download the app to either your computer or mobile device to get started.

Looking back at a landmark year with Special Olympics

By Ryan Wilks, October 19, 2020

Earlier this summer, we shone a light on our flagship partnership with Special Olympics and our commitment to the Inclusion Revolution. In that same story, we introduced you to our four Special Olympics Service Ambassadors, Daniel, Kyle, Lauren and Zinyra (Z), who, this month, celebrate one year working at Chicago O'Hare International Airport as part of the United family.

This groundbreaking, inclusive employment program took off as a part of our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics, a community relationship that employees across the company hold close to heart. The original 'UA4' (as they call themselves) have become an integral part of the United team serving customers at O'Hare Airport. Even from behind their masks, their wide smiles and effervescent spirit exude and bring life to the service culture of excellence we strive towards every day.

"The UA4 are more than just customer service ambassadors. They are shining examples of how inclusion, accessibility and equity can have monumental impacts on the culture and service of a business and community," said Customer Service Managing Director Jonna McGrath. "They have forever changed who we are as a company. While they often talk about how United and this opportunity has changed their lives, they have changed ours in more ways than we can count."

In the two years of partnership with Special Olympics, United employees have volunteered over 10,500 hours of service at events around the world and donated over $1.2 million worth of travel to the organization.

"This inclusive employment program is what community partnerships, like ours with Special Olympics, are all about: collaborating to identify areas where the needs of the community intersect with the cultural and business opportunity, then creating the infrastructure and programming to bring the two together," said Global Community Engagement Managing Director Suzi Cabo. "Through this program, our goal is to show other companies that when you put a committed effort and focus towards inclusion and breaking down barriers, you transform lives. I challenge other business around the world to follow our lead in joining the Inclusion Revolution."

Check out the video below to hear from our Special Olympics Service Ambassadors firsthand.

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