Wounded Warriors fly the friendly skies to Vegas

By Roslyn Giles  - email | bio

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  Several Fort Benning soldiers and their spouses boarded an American Airlines' American Eagle aircraft Thursday morning for a free flight to Las Vegas.

The airline along with the Sands' Foundation, a non-profit organization, teamed up to provide the wounded warriors with a fun-filled weekend in "Sin City."

"It's just like chills; I just want to cry because this is awesome," explained Claudette Reese, Sergeant Major, who definitely feels appreciated as a soldier in the United States Army this Veterans Day. "We do it because we love our country. We don't do it because it's a job. We love our Country."

Reese says she feels that same love from the ones she and so many others have put their lives on the line to protect-- the American people.

Sergeant Mark Busby and his wife also took the trip. Busby got hurt during a house raid in Iraq. He said this day is like no other as he reminisced about the days gone by, when his dad served.

"How the community and society was toward them, and to have this Veterans Day being looked upon now in a lot better light. It's an honor,"  said Busby.

AA has a long history of honoring soldiers dating back to World War II, added Dale Morris, Managing Director for Governmental Affairs, American Airlines. " We are just proud to be able to provide this kind of assistance for the ones that have made such a sacrifice getting wounded also serving our country."

The trip includes entertainment by Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band, Clint Black, Terry Fator and the Blue Man Group at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, sightseeing and educational seminars.

The Fort Benning servicemen will take a connecting flight in New York, joining 130 other wounded soldiers before heading to Vegas.

After a few accolades from the local dignitaries to included Mayor Jim Wetherington, State Senator Ed Harbison and  State Representative Calvin Smyre, the wounded warriors took to the skies to meet other soldiers from around the country for a first class flight aboard the new Flagship Independence, a Boeing 767 with yellow ribbon decals and the slogan, "In Support of All Who Serve" imprinted on the fuselages.

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