‘Operation Handshake’ welcomes home military service members

Posted at 5:16 PM, Nov 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-22 17:16:38-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Operation Handshake at Gerald R. Ford International Airport was a huge success Wednesday, honoring more than 100 active duty military personnel and veterans, just in time for the holiday season.

Patriot Guard members, Airport volunteers, and strangers have gathered outside the gates for nearly ten years to honor our troops and veterans with a special flag line ceremony and a hand shake.

Operation Handshake is a day dedicated to thanking the men and woman who've sacrificed so much for our country.

“This is what Thanksgiving is really all about,” said Tony VanGessel, Captain of the Patriot Guard Riders of West Michigan. "It's a way of giving back. It's something we never received and we want them to know there's people back home that care about what they're doing."

Veterans and troops who spoke with FOX 17 all agreed the holidays are best spent with loved ones, saying Operation Handshake was just the warm surprise they needed to kick off the holiday season.