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Gliding through rarefied air

By Matt Adams , August 11, 2017

United recognizes and rewards the passion of our employees through the Volunteer Impact Grant program, which has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to employees who are giving back to their communities. This story highlights DEN Captain Eric Mosley, one of the many grant recipients who are using those funds for the greater good of the people we serve.

On a warm Saturday in June, against the backdrop of Rocky Mountain National Park's snow-capped peaks, eight intrepid high school students took turns experiencing the thrill of flying in a completely unique way – soaring among the clouds in unpowered glider planes. But it was more than a sense of adventure that drove them from their beds early on a weekend morning; it was a sense of carrying on a legacy that was established nearly 80 years ago by a group of pioneering aviators.

For the past two decades, thanks to the sponsorship of Denver's Hubert L. "Hooks" Jones Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, young men and women from the Denver area have gotten the chance to chase their aeronautical dreams through the Mile High Flight Program, founded by Captain Eric Mosley and his late father, Lieutenant Colonel John W. Mosley. The course, which runs through the school year, exposes kids to aviation in ways that might otherwise be unavailable to them. And each summer it ends on a high note with the highly anticipated glider flights.

"I was sitting at the dinner table with my father and talking about the fact that there were so few African-American pilots in this country," Capt. Mosley said, describing the genesis of the Mile High Flight Program. "We started it as a way to encourage and inspire African-American men and women, but we decided right from the start that we wouldn't discriminate against anyone who wanted to participate. Today we are proud to have students from all races and all backgrounds."

Perhaps no one understood better what those kinds of opportunities could mean to a young person of color than Capt. Mosley's father, who himself had served as one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.

Lt. Col. John Mosley, far right, with the original Swoop Club

"Dad had the intention of becoming a veterinarian, but that was denied him because of his race. When the war broke out and they announced the formation of a black fighter squadron in Tuskegee, he decided that if they wouldn't let him be a veterinarian, he'd fly planes. That was the most extreme thing he could imagine as a way to show people what he was capable of doing."

Back at the Owl Canyon Gliderport north of Fort Collins, Colorado, the impact of the Mosleys' vision is evident in the look of exhilaration on the faces of the kids as they climb out of their gliders.

"Flying a glider is almost surreal," said Traye Jackson, a student at Denver's East High School. "You're at the will of the wind when you're up there. You can barely feel anything other than the updrafts."

Not only do the students get exposure to fascinating careers and hobbies, they also have the chance to take inspiration from the men who trained at Tuskegee all those years ago. "Against all odds, they achieved," Jackson said. "Despite everything they went through, they strove to be better than what was expected of them."

Mile High Flight participant Traye with his mother, Lucinda, center. Traye is one of the program\u2019s most promising students

As they prepare to embark upon their twenty-first year, Capt. Mosley and his crew of more than 20 volunteers, which includes three of his fellow United pilots, have built a legacy of their own. The program consists of two phases, and the most promising students are invited to participate in "Phase 2" where they learn to fly while pursuing their private pilot's license. Several Mile High Flight alumni have gone on to study at the Air Force Academy in nearby Colorado Springs, and many more have gone on to careers as pilots in both the military and in commercial aviation at airlines around the country, including current United First Officer Andrea Martinez. Regardless, every student who spent time in the Mile High Flight Program "slipping the surly bonds of Earth," as Capt. Mosley poetically put it, walked away with something of value.

"Even though aviation and aerospace are the focus of our program," Capt. Mosley said, "what we really hope to leave the students with is an absolute, undeniable belief that they can do whatever they want to do, whether it's in the cockpit, whether it's designing jet aircraft, whether it's in the boardroom or the surgical ward – wherever. Aviation is kind of the metaphor, but the message is that through hard work and a good flight plan, there's nothing they can't achieve."

If you live in the Denver area and know a young man or woman with an interest in aviation, you can find more information about the program and the Hubert L. "Hooks" Jones Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen by visiting their website, www.colorado-redtails.com.

Reflecting on Veterans Day: a message from our CEO Oscar Munoz

By Oscar Munoz, CEO, United Airlines , November 11, 2019

Right now, around the world, brave members of America's armed forces are on duty, defending our freedom and upholding our values.

When not laser-focused on the mission at hand, they're looking forward to the day when their service to our nation is fulfilled and they can reunite with their families.

They are also imagining how they can use their hard-earned skills to build an exciting, rewarding and important career when they return home.

I want them to look no further than United Airlines.

That's why we are focused on recruiting, developing and championing veterans across our company, demonstrating to our returning women and men in uniform that United is the best possible place for them to put their training, knowledge, discipline and character to the noblest use.

They've developed their knowledge and skills in some of the worst of times. We hope they will use those skills to keep United performing at our best, all of the time.

That's why we are accelerating our efforts to onboard the best and the brightest, and substantially increasing our overall recruitment numbers each year.

We recently launched a new sponsorship program to support onboarding veterans into United and a new care package program to support deployed employees. It's one more reason why United continues to rank high - and rise higher - as a top workplace for veterans. In fact, we jumped 21 spots this year on Indeed.com's list of the top U.S workplaces for veterans. This is a testament to our increased recruiting efforts, as well as our efforts to create a culture where veterans feel valued and supported.

We use the special reach and resources of our global operations to partner with outstanding organizations. This is our way of stepping up and going the extra mile for all those who've stepped forward to answer our nation's call.

We do this year-round, and the month of November is no exception; however, it is exceptional, especially as we mark Veterans Day.

As we pay tribute to all Americans who have served in uniform and carried our flag into battle throughout our history, let's also keep our thoughts with the women and men who are serving around the world, now. They belong to a generation of post-9/11 veterans who've taken part in the longest sustained period of conflict in our history.

Never has so much been asked by so many of so few.... for so long. These heroes represent every color and creed. They are drawn from across the country and many immigrated to our shores.

They then freely choose to serve in the most distant and dangerous regions of the world, to protect democracy in its moments of maximum danger.

Wherever they serve - however they serve - whether they put on a uniform each day, or serve in ways which may never be fully known, these Americans wake up each morning willing to offer the "last full measure of devotion" on our behalf.

Every time they do so, they provide a stunning rebuke to the kinds of voices around the world who doubt freedom and democracy's ability to defend itself.

Unfortunately, we know there are those who seem to not understand – or say they do not - what it is that inspires a free people to step forward, willing to lay down their lives so that their country and fellow citizens might live.

But, we – who are both the wards and stewards of the democracy which has been preserved and handed down to us by veterans throughout our history – do understand.

We know that inciting fear and hatred of others is a source of weakness, not strength. And such divisive rhetoric can never inspire solidarity or sacrifice like love for others and love of country can.

It is this quality of devotion that we most honor in our veterans - those who have served, do serve and will serve.

On behalf of a grateful family of 96,000, thank you for your service.

Humbly,

Oscar

United named a top workplace for veterans

By The Hub team , November 10, 2019

Each year around Veterans Day, Indeed, one of the world's largest job search engines, rates companies based on actual employee reviews to identify which ones offer the best opportunities and benefits for current and former U.S. military members. Our dramatic improvement in the rankings this year reflects a stronger commitment than ever before to actively recruiting, developing and nurturing veteran talent.

"We've spent a lot of time over the past 12 months looking for ways to better connect with our employees who served and attract new employees from the military ranks," said Global Catering Operations and Logistics Managing Director Ryan Melby, a U.S. Army veteran and the president of our United for Veterans business resource group.

"Our group is launching a mentorship program, for instance, where we'll assign existing employee-veterans to work with new hires who come to us from the armed forces. Having a friend and an ally like that, someone who can help you translate the skills you picked up in the military to what we do as a civilian company, is invaluable. That initiative is still in its infancy, but I'm really optimistic about what it can do for United and for our veteran population here."

Impressively, we were the only one of our industry peers to move up on the list, further evidence that we're on a good track as a company.

Mission Accomplished

By Matt Adams , November 06, 2019

The question of where David Ferrari was had haunted retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major Vincent Salceto for the better part of 66 years.

Rarely did a week go by that Salceto didn't think about his old friend. Often, he relived their last moments together in a recurring nightmare. In it, it's once again 1953 and Salceto and Ferrari are patrolling a valley in what is now North Korea. Suddenly, explosions shatter the silence and flares light up the night sky.

Crouching under a barrage of bullets, Salceto, the squad's leader, drags two of his men to safety, then he sees Ferrari lying face down on the ground. He runs out to help him, but he's too late. And that's when he always wakes up.

Italian Americans from opposite coasts – Salceto from Philadelphia, Ferrari from San Francisco – the two became close, almost like brothers, after being assigned to the same unit during the Korean War. When Ferrari died, it hit Salceto hard.

"After that, I never let anyone get close to me like I did with Dave," he says. "I couldn't; I didn't want to go through that again."

When the war ended, Salceto wanted to tell Ferrari's family how brave their son and brother had been in battle. Most of all, he wanted to salute his friend at his gravesite and give him a proper farewell.

For decades, though, Salceto had no luck finding his final resting place or locating any of his relatives. Then, in June of this year, he uncovered a clue that led him to the Italian Cemetary in Colma, California, where Ferrari is buried.

Within days, Salceto, who lives in Franklinville, New Jersey, was packed and sitting aboard United Flight 731 from Philadelphia to San Francisco with his wife, Amy, and daughter, Donna Decker, on his way to Colma. For such a meaningful trip, he even wore his Army dress uniform.

That's how San Francisco-based flight attendant Noreen Baldwin spotted him as he walked down the jet bridge to get on the plane.

"I saw him and said to the other crew members, 'Oh my goodness, look at this guy,'" she says. "I knew there had to be a story."

The two struck up a conversation and Salceto told Baldwin why he was traveling. She got emotional listening to him talk and made a point of fussing over him, making sure he and his family had everything they needed.

About halfway through the flight, Baldwin had an idea. She and her fellow crew members would write messages of encouragement to Salceto and invite his fellow passengers to do the same.

"We did it discreetly," says Baldwin. "I asked the customers if they saw the man in uniform, which most had, and asked them if they wanted to write a few words for him on a cocktail napkin. A lot of people did; families did it together, parents got their kids to write something. After the first few rows, I was so choked up that I could barely talk."

When Baldwin surprised Salceto with dozens of hand-written notes, he, too, was speechless. He laid the stack on his lap and read each one. At the same time, the pilots made an announcement about the veteran over the loud speaker, after which the customers on board burst into applause.

"It seems contrived, and I hate using the word organic, but that's what it was; it just happened," Baldwin says. "Mr. Salceto was so loveable and humble, and what he was doing was so incredible, it felt like the right thing to do. And you could tell he was touched."

On June 27, Salceto finally stood before Ferrari's grave and said that long-awaited goodbye. As a trumpeter played "Taps," he unpinned a medal from his jacket and laid it reverently on the headstone.

"I had gotten a Bronze Star for my actions [the night Ferrari died] with a 'V' for valor, and that was the medal I put on Dave's grave," says Salceto, pausing to fight back tears. "I thought he was more deserving of it than I was."

For the first time in years, Salceto felt at peace. His mission was accomplished.

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