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Ford Int’l Airport welcomes home military members with Operation Handshake

Posted at 10:01 AM, Nov 14, 2016

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Officials with Gerald R. Ford International Airport say the Thanksgiving holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for them. Many West Michigan troops are making their way home and you and your family are encouraged to come out and celebrate their return.

Airport volunteers, therapy dogs and Portrait Guard Riders are participating in Operation Handshake, the day before Thanksgiving.

“We know that not every member of our military can make it home during the holidays, but for those returning to West Michigan we want to make it special and let them know we are thankful for their service,” said GFIA Acting President & CEO Phil Johnson in a release.

Operation Handshake will take place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“This is what Thanksgiving is really all about,” said Tony VanGessel of the Patriot Guard Riders of West Michigan. “What we see each year is an inspiration. We get a thank you from the military members, but it’s also heartwarming for the general traveling public around us to see what transpires.”

Holiday air travelers should get to Gerald R. Ford Airport about two hours in advance and know limitations on what you can take on the plane by visiting the Transportation Security Administration web site before you even leave home, said airport representative Tara Hernandez.