MIA Honors War Veterans with Homecoming

Partnering With Carriers

On May 30, the Miami-Dade Aviation Department (MDAD) hosted its first-ever Honor Flight to pay tribute to 64 World War II and Korean War veterans. In partnership with Honor Flight South Florida and Eastern Air Lines, the event took place at Miami International Airport (MIA) during National Military Appreciation Month. The living legends, who departed on Eastern Air Lines flight #1941 (named after the first year of the U.S. involvement in WWII), traveled to D.C. to visit the war memorials built in their honor. While traveling home on EAL flight #1945 (named for the year the war ended), the vets received 2,600 personalized thank-you letters collected at MIA and distributed onboard in a military-style “mail call.”

MDAD organized the writing campaign and gained support from more than a dozen airport and community partners. The Honor Flight event culminated with a homecoming at MIA, where more than 2,000 well-wishers and media gathered to take part in a massive homecoming celebration.

MDAD also developed a publicity plan that included media interviews, social media initiatives with the hashtag #MIASalutes, and a commemorative video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6KTc-W2mnA

Entry Statement

1. Project Goals: 

Event designed to honor World War II and Korean War veterans and demonstrate MIA’s commitment to the men and women who serve or have served in the military; to generate excellent media, public and community relations.

2. Production: 

MIA’s Campaign included:

  • A “Mail Call” in-terminal and social media initiative spearheaded by MIA that resulted in 2,600 personalized letters to the veterans from MIA’s employees, passengers, and vendors, as well as local elected official and school students. The letters were distributed to the veterans aboard the return flight to MIA.
  • Production of a professional commemorative event video
  • Social media and digital initiatives, with the hashtag #MIAsalutes, in the weeks leading up to the event
  • Branded #MIAsalutes initiative, selfie frames, print/digital signs, including a 75’ LED digital billboard honoring “Hometown Heroes”
  • Pre-event radio, print and media interviews by MIA officials
  • Water cannon salute, marching bands, honor guards and police escorts
3. Evaluation: 
  • Extensive media coverage, picked up by 268 publications including the Miami Herald and Boston Globe for a net 85,000 headline impressions, including MIA official appearances on radio stations and TV.
  • Event turnout, 2,000 well-wishers, a presidential candidate, local elected officials, military officials and media
  • Social media reach: 550,000
  • Post-event recognition from veterans, HFSF and military officials
  • Video views: 33,000
  • 2,600 personalized veteran thank you letters, a one-of-a-kind campaign according to HFSF officials
4. Budget: 

Total campaign cost: $3,400

  • In-house graphic design- $2,000
  • In-house printing- $1,000
  • Digital Advertising- $400
  • Creation of video- $7,000 (donated by FPL)