Austin, Texas resumes honor flights for veterans

Monday, November 1, 2021
Veterans photo

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (Texas) TSA receives congressional certificate for Honor Flight

Honor Guard photo
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Honor Guard receives Special Congressional Recognition from Congressman Michael McCaul. From left, Congressional staffer Madison Bau, Lead TSA officer Juan “Gabe” Bazan, Supervisory TSA officer Silvija Mitchell, Lead TSA officer Stephan Tapia, TSA officers Janet Rivera, Leslie Rocha, Louise Yates and Kathryn Hatcher, and congressional staffer Andrew “Drew” Ross. Not pictured are Supervisory TSA officers Jeremy Shinkle, Adrian Garza and Antonio Bruno, and TSA officerss Hiram Morales and Marcelo Sierra. (Photo courtesy of AUS TSA)

Though hampered by pandemic protocols, Honor Flight Austin hosted 48 World War II, Korean Conflict and Vietnam War veterans on a “Trip of a Lifetime” to visit the Washington, D.C. memorials that honor their service.

The procession was led by the TSA Austin Honor Guard and an Austin Police Department bagpiper who support each veteran Honor Flight from Austin to Washington, D.C. The Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) Honor Guard, which consists of 12 volunteer officers, are a mixture of veterans and those with ties to military families currently serving. The collateral duty  involves drill practice and presenting “the Colors” at AUS events. The team has presented at 9/11 ceremonies, Honor Flight events and escorting fallen warriors who arrive at the airport.

“All [Honor Guard officers] are motivated to represent our agency, uphold the customs and traditions, and participate in worthy events,” said AUS Stakeholder Relations Manager Ignacio “Nacho“ Reyes.

Honor Guard Certificate photo
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Honor Guard Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from Representative Michael T. McCaul. (Photo courtesy of AUS TSA)

As the convoy moved through the terminal, travelers were treated to a parade of veterans whose service to our country spanned more than 35 years. Among the cheers, applause and flag waving there were those who were solemnly moved. Tears were flowing in the crowd and among the veterans.

Also in attendance werestaff members from Texas Congressman Michael T. McCaul’s local office who were meeting with Federal Security Director (FSD) Mike Scott and Assistant FSD Gil Almaraz. The  staffers were clearly impressed with the support TSA provided these heroes.“They had never experienced first-hand how we handle these veterans with care, using the latest TSA technology and good ole Texas manners,” reflected Almaraz.

After the congressional visitors presented a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition to Supervisory TSA officer Silvija Mitchell, the TSA AUS Honor Guard Leader, the parade moved on to the checkpoint. Here the congressional staff members visited with the TSA officers, thanked the veterans for their service and met with the Honor Guard members.

“It was a great honor to receive the congressional recognition certificate thanking all our TSA Honor Guard volunteers” said Mitchell.

The event came to a parade rest at the veteran’s departure gate where everyone joined together to sing the National Anthem.

“It was a great honor for my office to participate in the sendoff ceremony for an Honor Flight at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport,” said McCaul. “This is a wonderful event where we can celebrate the sacrifice and service of our veterans as they journey to Washington, D.C. to see the memorials constructed for the wars they bravely fought in overseas. I am also thankful to the TSA Honor Guard as well for their dedication to honoring our veterans.” ulonal Airport,ttedparade moved on to theing officers provided

these aged heroes.

“I am very proud of all our AUS Honor Guard members. They not only conduct their daily security duties, they also step up to do more to honor others, as they present a positive TSA image,” said Scott.

By Wayne Carey, Strategic Communications & Public Affairs