Veterans Day – Honoring All Who Served
Vol.8 Issue 8
Veterans Day – Honoring All Who Served

The Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center (MMAC) hosted a virtual pre-Veterans Day celebration on November 8th to honor our country’s military veterans. Veterans Day is celebrated on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, commemorating the armistice (or temporary cessation of hostilities) and eventual end of the first world war.

Though the date of celebration for Armistice Day (which later became "Veterans Day") has shifted over the years, it was eventually reestablished on November 11th to honor America’s veterans who fought in the "war to end all wars." Currently, we celebrate all of those individuals who raised their right hand and swore an oath to protect our Constitution. We honor them for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

The Bald Eagle, considered a sign of strength, courage and freedom represents America and the unity of all branches of military service

Celebrating Veterans Day should not be confused with Memorial Day, which honors those who died while in service, however, Veterans Day honors all military veterans who have served, including those who are still with us. On this day, we thank people for risking their lives to defend America, and to reflect on the importance of peace. This day should also remind us that there are still many people who are suffering as a result of taking part in combat, and who cope with challenges every day – whether physically or psychologically.

The virtual MMAC Veterans Day event was kicked off by Deputy Director, Kevin O’Connor, who set the stage for the event. He defined what a veteran is, and how veterans have helped to shape and defend our country throughout history. There are 1,186 employees on the Center who are veterans, and we are grateful for every one of them.

Kevin introduced Air Force veteran and Deputy Director of the FAA Academy, Valdrie Buford, who hosted the event. Valdrie served six and a half years in the U.S. Air Force where he worked as an Air Traffic Control Radar Systems Specialist. His military contributions include designing and prototyping a remote maintenance terminal for the Air Force and the National Weather Service, which allowed technicians to remotely perform maintenance on the Next Generation Radar (known as the NEXRAD) System. Valdrie’s recommendation in using his prototype was accepted through the Air Force Suggestion Program and implemented through the Department of Defense and National Weather Center facilities. This modification significantly improved the up-time and reduced the travel time for technicians having to travel to remote sites. Additionally, Valdrie also served in Oklahoma’s Air National Guard, where he contributed to their efforts with the Quality Management System and Total Quality Management (TQM).

Deputy Director of the FAA Academy, Valdrie Buford, delivers a presentation during the MMAC Veterans Day celebration
A sampling of the many presidents who were military veterans throughout history

With his welcoming remarks, Valdrie reminded the audience of the important purpose of the Veterans Day, and he narrated a visual presentation about Presidents throughout history who served in the military prior to taking office. Thereafter, he introduced the Keynote Speaker for the event, Major Ed Pulido, US Army (ret). A short, but sobering video portrayed Major Pulido’s combat story.

In 2004, Major Pulido was serving with the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team, traveling in a convoy, heading into hostile territory near Baqubah, Iraq. While commanding that convoy, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) ripped through his vehicle. The shrapnel caused severe damage to his left leg.

He was evacuated by helicopter from the battlefield and ultimately spent weeks in intensive care, until on October 1st, 2004, doctors had to amputate his leg. For his sacrifice, Major Pulido received the Bronze Star with Valor, the Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, and Joint Service Commendation and Achievement medals.

Keynote Speaker for the 2022 MMAC Veterans Day celebration, Major Ed Pulito

Since his recovery, he has become the co-founder and CEO of the John Daly – Major Ed Heart of a Lion Foundation, and he is a Senior Vice President of the Folds of Honor Foundation. Additionally, he is a founding member of the Warriors for Freedom Foundation. Major Pulido also founded Warrior Nation, and recently published his autobiography, Warrior for Freedom: Challenge, Triumph and Change, The Major Ed Pulido Story. Learn more about him

It was an honor to listen to Major Pulido speak to the MMAC audience. Though the Aeronautical Center’s celebration of Veterans Day is typically conducted in person, and veterans are asked to stand for their Branch songs, this year’s celebration was held virtually. Short videos from all of the services were played, reminding viewers of the diverse and important mission of each service branch. Following the presentation, Debbie Uglean, one of this year’s Combined Federal Campaign’s co-chairs, provided a video to promote the many charities for people to donate to, including those that support our country’s veterans.

Valdrie Buford closed the event by saying, "Veterans Day is a day when all across America, we pause to remember those who served and came home. For nearly a century, since the guns of the First World War fell silent, on the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month, we have observed Veterans Day. We are here to pay due respect to those Americans that have ’passed the torch of liberty from one generation to the next.’ As a fellow Veteran, I too am grateful for your service, your sacrifice, and our freedoms, which you have defended. May God Bless each of you and your families. Here’s a salute to all of you who wear or who have worn the uniform."

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