MIAMI – American Airlines (AA) and Southwest Airlines (WN) commemorated this week the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The attack led to the US entering WWII.

American Airlines teamed with the Best Defense Foundation, Gary Sinise Foundation, Veterans United Home Loans, and others for a weeklong vacation to celebrate the service and sacrifice of WWII veterans to commemorate the attack.

The AA commemoration began on Thursday, Dec. 2, according to an airline release, with a special event at the Westin DFW Airport Hotel honoring 63 WWII veterans, which included a red carpet walk, a world-class feast crafted by Chef Robert Irvine, and entertainment by 1940s era dancers and musicians.

The veterans were escorted to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) by local police and Patriot Guard Riders on Dec. 3. At the airport, they were greeted as heroes by over 100 American Airlines employees who volunteered to march in a procession through Terminal D. The passengers boarded a Boeing 787 charter flight to Honolulu after a gate celebration.

First Officer Nancy Wudtke of the flight, based in Chicago, was in the flight deck for the mission, which offered her the unique privilege of transporting her father, a World War II Army Air Corps veteran.

“My dad is really the reason I’m a pilot today,” Wudtke said. “I grew up around airplanes thanks to his service in the Army Air Corps, so it’s very exciting to be a part of this. I’m honored to take these heroes to Hawaii.”

Comments from American Airlines

“At American, our commitment to our nation’s military service members and veterans runs deep,” said David Seymour, Chief Operating Officer at American.

“It’s a critical part of our airline’s DNA. And that’s because each of us at American — including the thousands of veterans and those still serving in the National Guard or Reserve component who work at American — are acutely aware of and grateful for the sacrifice so many have made to ensure our freedom.”As

“That’s why we’re proud to support the Best Defense Foundation and its mission to honor members of the Greatest Generation.”

Two notable examples of the heroics witnessed during the attack, US pilots George Welch and Kenneth Taylor managed to get airborne under fire — twice — and shot down at least six Japanese planes between them.

A Long-awaited Reunion

As the US commemorates the attack, work on a multi-year endeavor to identify the 394 unnamed Sailors and Marines who were on board the USS Oklahoma when it sank 80 years ago is drawing to a close.

Southwest Airlines played a small role in reuniting one of the recently identified Sailors with his family for the last time. You can see WN’s video of the sailor’s “final mission” above.

Featured image: American Airlines