Veterans Day ceremony includes war hero who helped integrate armed forces
DETROIT, 2012-11-08 – To commemorate Veterans Day, General Motors is expanding its military discount and welcoming a retired member of the Tuskegee Airmen to Friday's joint UAW Local 160 Veterans Committee and GM Veterans Affinity Group ceremonies at the GM Technical Center in Warren, Mich.
Previously available only to active duty, reservists, retired service members and their spouses, GM has broadened the discount program – effective immediately – to include veterans within a year after discharge.
"We wanted to accommodate the large numbers of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan and the impending draw down of service members from all branches," said Linda Stouffer, GM marketing manager for vehicle purchase programs. "The GM Military Discount Program is just one way we thank the millions of servicemen and women struggling to balance the needs of their families and service to their country."
Most Chevrolet, Buick and GMC models are eligible for military preferred pricing, which can be combined with other incentives including GM Card points. To participate, veterans show a copy of their DD214 (discharge papers) to a participating dealer. All branches of the U.S. armed services are eligible: Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and National Guard.
Friday's ceremony, which is free and open to the public, runs from 11 a.m. to noon (doors open at 10 a.m.) at the Alternative Energy Center Auditorium, located on the Tech Center campus. Guests are encouraged to enter the campus from Gate 9 on Van Dyke Road.
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Washington D. Ross will attend the ceremony. As a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, Ross flew 63 long-range bomber escort missions during WW II in P-47s and P-51s, and later taught aviation courses until his retirement from the Air Force. Earlier this year, he was inducted in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame. Members of the Tuskegee Airmen Association and Tuskegee Airmen Women's Auxiliary Association will attend with Ross.
Speakers include Ken Barrett, GM chief diversity officer and retired Navy captain; Larry Millben, retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and Tuskegee Airmen Liaison Officer; Mark Deppe, GM senior design engineer and retired Navy lieutenant; Bob Brinker, UAW Local 160 veteran's affairs president; and Harry Coyle, Navy veteran and junior vice commander, VFW Post 6756 in Center Line, Mich.
"The heroic service of pioneers like Lt. Col. Ross reminds us that diversity of all kinds strengthens and improves every entity, whether it's the military or a corporation," said Barrett. "We hope the public will come, thank a veteran for his or her service, and go home with a history lesson that can't be found in a textbook or online."
The Tuskegee Airmen were an elite group of African-American pilots in the 1940s, and pioneers in pursuit of equality and integration of the Armed Forces. The term "Tuskegee Airmen" comes from the Tuskegee Institute, where primary flight training took place, and encompasses pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors, and all personnel who kept the planes in the air.
By the end of the World War II, 992 men graduated from pilot training at Tuskegee. Of those, 450 were sent overseas for combat assignment, and 150 lost their lives while in training or on combat flights. According to the U.S. Air Force, the Tuskegee Airmen destroyed or damaged more than 409 enemy airplanes, 950 ground units, and sank a battleship destroyer. They ran more than 200 bomber escort missions.
With nearly 5,000 military veteran employees, General Motors' support for the United States armed forces spans generations. Today, Chevrolet assists Cell Phones for Soldiers, Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans, the Fallen and Wounded Soldiers Fund, a variety of employment and grassroots initiatives, and is the Official Vehicle of the Army-Navy game. The GM Military Discount program offers the industry's best discounts on most Chevrolet, Buick and GMC vehicles for active duty, reserves, veterans (within one year of discharge date) and retirees and spouses of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and National Guard. GM also is a proud sponsor of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Hiring Our Heroes initiative aimed at finding meaningful employment for veterans transitioning to civilian life. GM's military community can be found on Facebook.