Eight years of U.S. Army charters conclude with tributes and salutes
DFW AIRPORT, Texas, March 30, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than one hundred employees and volunteers at DFW International Airport bid farewell to the final departing U.S. military charter flight today, bringing an end to eight years of scheduled rest and recuperation (R&R) flights at the Airport. The flight departed from DFW with a shower of affection water cannon salute from DFW Airport Department of Public Safety fire trucks. With the final flight now airborne, the U.S. Army will close its Personnel Assistance Point at DFW Airport, which had processed soldiers and worked with Airport-based volunteer groups over the past eight years.
"This is a bittersweet day for all of us at DFW, because the R&R flights sparked one of the most remarkable periods in our Airport's history, with thousands of volunteers delivering an unbelievable outpouring of support for our men and women in uniform," said Jeff Fegan, CEO of DFW International Airport. "We will miss having the opportunity to personally thank our soldiers at DFW, but we know it's good news that the Army charter flights are being reduced, because it means fewer of our nation's troops are in harm's way."
The USO facility at DFW Airport will remain in operation serving troops. DFW expects about 100,000 individual troops annually will transit through the Airport on their travels between the United States and the Middle East.
On the final day of outbound flight operations, DFW Airport employees served a hot catered lunch to approximately 220 outbound soldiers as they gathered for manifest and check-in. Volunteers and local businesses and organizations contributed lunches for outbound soldiers frequently over the life of the program, and every day for the final month of flights out of DFW.
The start of R&R charter flights at DFW for a trial run in late 2003 prompted a grass roots volunteer greeter program known as "Welcome Home A Hero" to welcome each incoming soldier at DFW. That effort helped convince the Army to move the charter flights to DFW on a semi-permanent basis in 2004.
Over the life of the program, "Welcome Home A Hero" program volunteers greeted over 460,000 inbound soldiers transiting through DFW on their way home for two weeks of rest and recuperation from active duty in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Hundreds of local organizations and more than 10,000 individual volunteers greeted soldiers from a total of 2,700 incoming flights.
In January, the U.S. Army Human Resources Command announced it would end the daily R&R charters into DFW and close its Personnel Assistance Point (PAP) at DFW Airport, consolidating flights into Atlanta-Hartsfield Jackson International Airport as military deployment reductions continue overseas. The final arrival into DFW took place two weeks ago on March 14.
About DFW International Airport
Located halfway between the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, DFW International Airport is the world's fourth busiest, offering nearly 1,750 flights per day and serving 57 million passengers a year. DFW provides nonstop service to 144 domestic and 49 international destinations worldwide. For five consecutive years, DFW has ranked in the top five for customer service among large airports worldwide in surveys conducted by Airports Council International. For the latest news, real-time flight information, parking availability or further details regarding the many services provided at DFW International Airport, visit www.dfwairport.com.
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SOURCE DFW International Airport