Operation Handshake underway at GRR

Ford International Airport, veterans join forces to welcome military travelers to West Michigan
Photo courtesy of Ford International Airport

Homebound troops flying into West Michigan to celebrate Thanksgiving will be welcomed with a fanfare, of sorts, today at Ford International Airport. To show gratitude for their service to our country, veterans groups, along with Gerald R. Ford International Airport staff have organized, “Operation Handshake.” 

“During this season of gratitude, we invite all Airport guests to take a moment to join us in honoring our military,” said Lisa Carr, public safety & operations director for the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority.

The daylong event will include members of the Patriot Guard Riders and Blue Star Mothers greeting the honored travelers, waving American flags, offering words of thanks and singing patriotic songs.

“Each year it is an honor to greet veterans and active military and see the expressions on their faces,” said Phil Pakiela, captain of the Patriot Guard Riders of West Michigan. 

People who know active military troops or veterans traveling through Ford International Airport on Nov. 23 are encouraged to reach out to Phil Pakiela to provide arrival times via email at papapakiela@gmail.com or by phone at (616) 916-3064.

Operation Handshake is free and open to the public. Activities are already underway.

“The Ford International Airport is proud to welcome our troops and veterans to West Michigan. Operation Handshake is a great event for the community to join in, recognizing and supporting all that our service members have done and continue to do for our country,” Carr said. 




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