In honor of service members who sacrificed for their country, “Thunderbolts” at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., raised money to benefit a local veteran’s organization Dec. 14, 2016.
Luke’s F-35 Heritage Flight Team donated a 20 thousand dollar check to the Disabled American Veterans office at their Phoenix, Ariz. location.
“The DAV is a nonprofit charity providing a lifetime of support for veterans of all generations and their families,” said Senior Master Sgt. Samuel Smith, 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-35 heritage flight team superintendent. “They help more than a million veterans in life changing ways each year. We wanted to give back by raising money for their charity.”
Each year, the team plans to raise funds through a variety of methods to donate to local veterans charities. This year, from April to Nov., the team raised money through participation in 16 airshows throughout the United States and United Kingdom.
“We tasked our team to be a positive force within the community of Phoenix and the communities we had the privilege of visiting throughout the airshow season,” said Maj. William Andreotta, 61st Fighter Squadron F-35 heritage team commander. “Our team collectively decided to honor our veterans by selling F-35 Lightning II memorabilia during our airshow season. The goal was essentially to present the earnings to honor the sacrifice and service of those before us and showcase the evolution of airpower.”
The donations given to the DAV will help the organization fund programs, like healthcare services, psychological counseling, physical rehabilitation, job training and residential relocation.
“We are very grateful for the F-35 Heritage Flight Team’s planning and coordination,” Said John Burden, Arizona’s DAV vice-commander. “Their generosity will help us immensely to ensure veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them and educate the public about their great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life.”