Paying Tribute to Iwo Jima Veterans at LAX - United Hub
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Paying tribute to Iwo Jima veterans at LAX

By Matt Adams, March 29, 2017

On February 19, 1945, two divisions of U.S. Marines invaded the Japanese stronghold on the tiny island of Iwo Jima. What followed were weeks of some of the most intense fighting of World War II, with casualties from both sides measured in the tens of thousands. The iconic photo of the American flag being raised on Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi stands today as one of the most indelible images of the war. And last week at Los Angeles International Airport, we had the distinct honor of saluting three of the men who fought so valiantly on those eight-square-miles in the Pacific Ocean, as they departed for the same beaches that they stormed more than 70 years ago.

On March 20, World War II veterans Carl DeHaven, George Cattelona and Francis Jackson (who also served in Korea and Vietnam) boarded a United charter aircraft bound for Guam, where they will tour battlefields before visiting Iwo Jima for a memorial ceremony. United Customer Service Representative Cindy Good, who has helped organize these veteran charter tours for more than 20 years, and who has traveled to Iwo Jima on four occasions, works hard to ensure that the veterans always receive a worthy send-off.

"An honor guard that included officers from the TSA, the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, along with members of the Young Marines, led a procession to the gate where delegates from the USO held the World War II flag, the [50-star] American flag as it is today and the 48-star 'Old Glory,' that flew over where these men were fighting," she said. "Mr. DeHaven took out his harmonica, as he often does, and played the "Marine Corp Hymn," and the passengers around the gate area gave them a standing ovation before they boarded." Cindy became emotional when she recounted overhearing a young boy in the crowd talking to his father. "He asked him, 'Daddy, who are those men?' and his dad answered, 'Those men went to war and fought for our freedom.'"

Iwo Jima veterans being walked to their flight.

To cap it all off, Flight Attendant Sharon Mason, whose father fought at Iwo Jima, gave a speech at the gate that talked about the significance of the battle prior to the groups' departure.

Today, Iwo Jima is a Japanese military base, but their government allows veterans to return one day each year to honor the fallen at the top of Mount Suribachi, where there is a monument to the American and Japanese troops who fought there. When asked about her most vivid recollections from her trips to the island, Cindy doesn't hesitate. "When you get to the top of the mountain and you look down at the beach and envision the landing, you realize that the fact that anyone survived is a miracle. When we get up there, you can see in the veterans' eyes that the memories come flooding back to them."

Perhaps the best part of the trip for both the veterans and those traveling with them is the opportunity to share their stories with new generations. "Young Marines – who are high school-aged students – are assigned to each veteran during the trip," said Cindy. "The veterans always say that they enjoy being around the young people the most. They're all in their 90s now, so it's more important than ever for them to pass on that history."

Adjusting to Customer Demand, United Adds New Nonstop Service to Florida

By United Newsroom, August 12, 2020

CHICAGO, Aug. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines today announced plans to add up to 28 daily nonstop flights this winter connecting customers in Boston, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New York/LaGuardia, Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio to four popular Florida destinations. The new, nonstop flights reflect United's continuing strategy to aggressively, and opportunistically manage the impact of COVID-19 by increasing service to destinations where customers most want to fly.

Entertainment for all

By The Hub team, August 04, 2020

Our Marketing Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity team and Bridge, our Business Resource Group (BRG) for people with all abilities, partnered together to test and provide feedback on our award-winning seatback inflight entertainment (IFE) system.

Aptly named "Entertainment for all," our new seatback IFE system offers the an extensive suite of accessibility features, allowing for unassisted use by people of all visual, hearing, mobility and language abilities.

"It's nice to know that I can get on a plane and pick my favorite entertainment to enjoy, just like every customer," said Accessibility Senior Analyst and Developer and Bridge Chief of Staff Ray C., who is blind.

"As a deaf employee, the closed captioning availability on board our aircraft is something I value greatly," added Information Technology Analyst Greg O. "The new IFE further cements United's visibility within the deaf community and elsewhere. It makes me proud to be an employee."

Accessibility features of the new IFE include a text-to-speech option, explore by touch, customizable text size, screen magnification, color correction and inversion modes, and alternative navigation options for those unable to swipe or use a handset. For hearing-impaired and non-English-speaking passengers, customization options provide the ability for customers to be served content and receive inflight notifications based on their preferences and settings —with closed captions, with subtitles or in the language of their choice from the 15 languages supported. Our "Entertainment for all" system won the Crystal Cabin Award in 2019, and recently, the Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl Research and Development Award for Audio Description by the American Council of the Blind.

"This really showed the benefits of partnering with BRGs in helping us improve products and services for our customers and employees," said Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity Senior Manager Corinne S. "Even though we have been recognized with awards for our IFE accessibility features, we are not resting on our laurels but continuing to work towards improving the inflight entertainment experience for all of our customers to ensure entertainment is available for all."

Shaping an inclusive future with Special Olympics

By The Hub team, July 24, 2020

If your travels have taken you through Chicago O'Hare International Airport anytime since October 2019, you may have had a friendly, caring and jovial exchange with Daniel Smrokowski. Daniel is one of four Service Ambassadors thanks to our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics. This inaugural ambassador program aims to provide Special Olympic athletes employment opportunities within our operation, affording them a unique and meaningful career.

Since 2018, our partnership with Special Olympics has become one of United's most cherished relationships, going beyond the events we take part in and volunteer with. While the plane pull competitions, polar plunges, duck derbies and Special Olympics World Games and other events around the world are a big part of our involvement, the heart of this partnership lies with the athletes and individuals supported by Special Olympics. To advocate for their inclusion in every setting is one of our biggest honors, and we take great pride in the role we play in the organization's inclusion revolution.

Aiding in the success of Special Olympics' mission to create continuing opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, throughout the two-year partnership, United has volunteered over 10,500 hours and donated over $1.2 million in travel to the organization. The impact of this partnership is felt at every level, both at Special Olympics and within our own ranks.

"The Inclusion Revolution campaign, led by our athletes, aims to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. United Airlines has joined in our fight for inclusion, empowering our athletes with the skills needed to succeed and opportunities to contribute their abilities as leaders," said Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver. "United Airlines believes that people with intellectual disabilities should be perceived as they really are: independent, world-class athletes, students, employees, neighbors, travelers, and leaders who contribute to make this world a better place."

Our Service Ambassador program is just one of the many ways Special Olympics has impacted not only our employees, but also our customers. "I see every day how our Service Ambassadors connect with our customers the moment they walk into the airport lobby," said Senior Customer Service Supervisor Steve Suchorabski. "They provide a warm, welcoming smile ad assist in any way they can. To see these young adults hold positions that a society once told them they couldn't is truly the most heartwarming part of my job," Steve continued.

"The opportunity to be a part of the United family means everything to me," Daniel said. "I feel so much pride showing up to work in a Special Olympics/United co-branded uniform, working among such a loving and supportive community. The relationship between these two organizations is truly helping to shape my future while letting me use my gifts of communicating and helping others. Hopefully, I can spend my entire career at United," Daniel added.

In honor of Special Olympics' Global Week of Inclusion in July, we're asking our employees, customers and partners to sign a pledge to #ChooseToInclude at jointherevolution.org/pledge.

And be sure to check out Daniel's podcast The Special Chronicles.

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