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."

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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