RI VERG takes flight with WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans
Ed Kane, President of the Rhode Island House of Representatives Veterans Advisory Council eloquently summed up what dozens of community members were feeling this past Saturday morning at T.F. Green Airport, as 25 RI WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans prepared to board a RI Fire Chiefs Honor Flight. Lining the terminal to proudly greet the group were firefighters, police, military, family and friends, and our own employees. Bagpipers led the veterans in a procession to their boarding gate, much to the delight of waiting passengers.
Nobody felt Ed’s sentiment more strongly than our RI Veterans Employee Resource Group (VERG) members in attendance. The group had chosen to use proceeds from the sale of camouflage hard hats to sponsor the day’s “Honor Flight Romeo,” covering the cost of each veteran’s flight, war memorial visits, and meals. For leads George Maerkle, Gas Operations, and Sean McGovern, Resource Planning, it was the culmination of a full year of planning with the RI Fire Chiefs Honor Flight Hub, and especially its dedicated Chairman, George Farrell.
Sean credits National Grid with getting the event off the ground. He explained, “Honor Flight Romeo would not have taken off without the support of our leadership team, all the employees who purchased hard hats, and the long list of volunteers who pitched in to thank our veterans.”
George, Sean, and a number of other company supporters had been “up in the morning with the rising sun” on Saturday, gathering at Warwick Fire Station #8 to greet veterans and their guardians and escort them – first-responder style – to the airport.
Three of our employees volunteered as guardians for the day. Ed Lanoue, Overhead Lines, Kieran Reilly, Gas Field Ops, and Dan McDonald, Overhead Lines, each escorted a veteran, ensuring their safety for the activity-packed 18-hr day. For us onlookers, it was impossible not to smile at the pride of each guardian as they presented their partnered veteran with a National Grid hard hat.
A smaller but no less enthusiastic crowd was at the airport late Saturday night to welcome home the returning Honor Flight Romeo group. By all accounts, each soldier and guardian departed the plane tired, but with a big smile.