Surf’s up for Wounded Warriors: TSA helps veterans get to the beach

Friday, June 2, 2023
Freedom Riders San Jose Chapter 39 and San Jose International Airport Lead TSA Officer Yadira Labate meet the Wounded Warrior veterans from Texas.  (Photo by Johney Radle)

TSA officers from San Jose International Airport (SJC) welcomed Texas veterans who participated in Operation Surf, a Wounded Warrior program emphasizing the healing power of the ocean to restore hope, renew purpose and revitalize community.

San Jose International Airport Lead TSA Officer Johney Radle at the ready to send off the Wounded Warrior flight.  (Photo by Tara Aldama)
San Jose International Airport Lead TSA Officer Johney Radle at the ready to send off the Wounded Warrior flight.  (Photo by Tara Aldama)

SJC TSA officers were at the gate to greet the veterans and moved the entourage through the airport where they were met by an honor guard from San Jose Freedom Riders, local Chapter 39 motorcycle club.

“Many of the officers selected for this honor are also combat veterans,” said SJC Assistant Federal Security Director of Screening Emilie Hill Sangetta. “Being able to watch TSA officers who served assist their fellow soldiers was an honor I will never forget.” 

Even a little rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of the group who then assembled at the front of the terminal and was handed off to the Freedom Riders who escorted the veterans through the rain to their surfing venue.

Operations Surf photographer Robert Smith conveyed his observations along with the executive director of the organization, thanking the TSA team for all their support. “It was very thoughtful of them to hang out in the rain with us to send off the participants,” remarked Smith. “The week’s program was deeply healing for all of the participants as is often the case with these programs. Thank you so much for your support!”

Former Marine Corps soldier and SJC Lead TSA Officer Yadira Labate shared her thoughts about the event and TSA San Jose’s involvement.

“It was a deeply moving experience for me to be able to help my fellow veterans and express to them our gratitude for their service. How the SJC team bonded together to make this event a positive experience for the heroes made me proud that I am part of the SJC TSA team.”

By Wayne Carey, TSA Strategic Communications and Public Affairs