ATLANTA, Gerogia --
Reserve Citizen Airmen, with the 701st Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, flew a C-17 Globemaster III to Atlanta, Georgia in support of the 10th anniversary of Delta Airline’s Veterans Appreciation Day event Nov. 3-4, 2021, at Atlanta, Georgia.
The annual event supports generations of servicemembers, while also helping foster a relationship with Air Force reservists for potential job opportunities.
“This event helps Delta work together with the U.S. Air Force Reserve to provide high quality aviation mechanics, pilots and more,” said Chief Master Sgt. Ret. Charles Gulledge, a veteran of the 315th Maintenance Squadron and retired Delta aircraft maintainer. “The two go hand in hand to make a connection with Citizen Airman.”
The event hosted hundreds of spectators who visited a hangar with more than 30 military aircraft represented by the U.S. Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Air Force.
“Everyone loves to see the Charleston C-17,” said Mark Norris, coordinator of the Delta Veterans Appreciation Day and retired U.S. Marine.
Norris said it was about 10 years ago when he decided to celebrate Veterans Day with his coworkers at Delta by bringing his shadow box of career mementos to the office and sharing memorable stories from his days of wearing the service uniform. Today, his dreams of growing the celebration to appreciate servicemembers is now an annual event at Delta.
“It all started with one shadow box,” he said. “The next year there were more and before we knew it, local aviators began arranging for military aircraft to participate. Now, we have all branches represented with 30 or so aircraft.”
1st Lt. Trip Gilbert, 701st AS pilot, said it was cool to see the crowd get in line and prepare to tour the C-17 as it was being taxied into place.
“We opened up the jet for static display, which helped the Delta employees interact with the military members and see what we do on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
According to Jennifer Carpenter, Delta Air Lines vice president of talent acquisition, veterans feel right at home with the airline.
“Our commitment extends beyond hiring, with more than 10,000 veterans currently employed at Delta, including a U.S. Air Force veteran serving as the Director of Talent Acquisition,” she said. “We take a multi-pronged approach to attracting and recruiting veterans, including community outreach and strategic partnerships. Delta was also an early adopter of the Veterans Job Mission and has been heavily involved in the coalition and its goal to hire one million veterans. However, our greatest focus is partnering with our Veterans Business Resource Group and recognizing the value of veterans during our hiring process.”
The majority of the 701st AS pilots in attendance are also pilots with Delta.
Maj. Andy Bean, a 701st AS pilot, has been a C-17 pilot for more than 18 years, and he has been a pilot with Delta for the past five years.
“The Air Force has given me so many opportunities,” he said. “I’m grateful that I get to live my passion and fly for the Air Force, and I absolutely love the opportunity I have to fly with Delta.”
Delta mechanic and veteran, Barry Wilson, said, “events like these bring the veterans together and make us feel appreciated when we share our stories. They make all the difference.”