SEATTLE, Oct. 26, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- In anticipation of Veterans Day, Alaska Airlines today unveiled the newest aircraft in its fleet featuring a patriotic special paint theme titled "Honoring Those Who Serve." The 737-900ER is dedicated to the brave men and women of the U.S. military, as well as veterans of the armed forces and their families. Its unique exterior paint scheme, conceived by a small group of Alaska maintenance technicians, was designed to symbolize remembrance, pride, and appreciation.
"All of us at Alaska greatly value the bravery and sacrifices of our servicemen and women and their families. We are extraordinarily proud to have this symbol of appreciation that our customers will see and fly on every day," said Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden. "A lot of individuals worked hard to make this airplane a reality. I want to give a special thank you to the members of our Fallen Soldier program for their continued passion and dedication. Because of them, we have this opportunity to honor those who serve."
More than 250 airline employees were joined by veterans and current members of the military for a special dedication of the airplane in Alaska's Seattle maintenance hangar today. In the days leading up to Veterans Day, the plane will fly to cities near military bases, including Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska; San Diego, and Washington D.C.
"Alaska Airlines employs more than 1,400 veterans who remind us every day about the dedication and sacrifices our men and women in the military make for our great nation. This plane is a tribute for these employees and veterans throughout our country, thanking them for their service," said Joe Sprague, the airline's senior vice president of communications and external relations.
As part of its ongoing support of the military, Alaska partners with many nonprofit organizations including Hiring Our Heroes and Camo2Commerce, both of which help transition veterans into civilian jobs. The company also supports Hero Miles, which provides free travel to injured or ill service members and their loved ones. Since 2014, Alaska customers and employees donated more than 7.4 million miles – the equivalent of 300 trips around the globe.
Ashley Hence, a veteran and customer-care representative for the company, got a foot in the door at Alaska, thanks to Camo2Commerce.
"I spent three years serving in the U.S. Army and leaving was a big decision," Hence said. "My husband and I are thankful and blessed to have been given this opportunity and did not worry if my skills would translate to the civilian workforce."
Other Alaska employees learned how to fly planes in the military. Col. Garin Tentschert, an Alaska captain and Seattle pilot base chief, learned many leadership lessons along the way from his more than 26 years of service in the U.S. Air Force and Reserves.
"When I look at this aircraft, I am thankful for the reminder that there are those still active in the military fighting every day for my freedom," said Col. Garin Tentschert, Alaska Airlines captain and Seattle base chief pilot. "I'm humbled to be a part of a company that values military service to the point of allowing me to excel in not only my civilian job, but also my military duties, all while understanding that my family is also important."
About the new plane
What first started as an idea on a napkin with a small group of passionate Alaska maintenance employees three years ago, has now become a tribute in the sky.
The key elements of the design include:
A red stripe and blue body of the aircraft incorporate elements of the American flag.
The phrase "Honoring Those Who Serve," boldly displayed on the fuselage as a symbol of remembrance, pride and appreciation.
A symbolic crest representing the Alaska Airlines Fallen Soldier Program to the right of the cargo door. The program ensures a fallen soldiers remains are treated with respect and dignity while being transported on company aircraft.
An "Alaska Airlines Salutes" medallion, featured on the right of the boarding door, near the nose of the aircraft. The medallion has five stars representing the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces: Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
A President Calvin Coolidge quote to the left of the rear cargo door reads, "No person was ever honored for what they received. Honor has been the reward for what they gave."
The special livery was created in partnership with Boeing, which shares an appreciation for the value that military personnel bring to the workplace. The companies collaborated throughout the painting and delivery process.
"Boeing employees are proud to deliver an airplane that will serve as a flying tribute to all veterans," said Brad McMullen, vice president of North America and Leasing Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "Over 20,000 veterans are employed at Boeing, bringing leadership skills and a strong work ethic cultivated through their military experience. We're incredibly fortunate to have so many veterans and military family members on our team."
The new "Honoring Those Who Serve" plane, tail number N265AK, will fly throughout Alaska's route network starting Friday.
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