SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Midwest Honor Flight is getting a major donation from Smithfield Foods. The global food company is giving the organization that takes Veterans to Washington, D.C., $125,000. That’s enough money to sponsor an entire flight this September.
In front of a crowd of Smithfield employees and local Veterans, Smithfield’s Mark Wiggs and Aaron Van Beek from Midwest Honor Flight announced the organization’s biggest donation yet, $125,000. The figure has Vietnam Veteran Bill Kortemeyer of Canton in awe.
“Wow. That’s amazing. That will help the cause. That will help a bunch, a bunch of guys,” Kortemeyer said.
Kortemeyer was on Mission 2 in 2018. The Air Force Vet says seeing the memorials in Washington, D.C., was great but the reception was even better.
“It was amazing. I don’t recall that I’ve ever received such special treatment as on that day,” Kortemeyer said.
It’s an experience Wiggs, the General Manager of Smithfield Foods’ Sioux Falls location, is excited to provide for more Veterans in KELOLAND.
“First of all, when you think about Veterans, you think guys that have sacrificed something for this country. Second of all you think, I’d like to hire some of those guys because they have great work ethic, know the meaning of responsibility and would be an asset to the company,” Wiggs said.
Smithfield wants ten-percent of its workforce in the United States to be made up of Veterans.
“We want to get at least 4,000 hired by the end of 2020. We feel that as a company, it’s good for us to have them in the company. Anything we can do to support them is what we want to do,” Wiggs said.
Kortemeyer says Smithfield being a Medal of Honor Flight sponsor is a great way to show it cares.
“So many of my brothers need to get on that flight. Need to experience that mission for healing purposes,” Kortemeyer said.
Midwest Honor Flight’s September 24th trip will now be known as the Smithfield Honor Flight. On top of the donation, Smithfield is sending six employees to assist Veterans on the flight. Another flight takes place this October. That one will be a Vietnam-only trip featuring roughly 120 Veterans. Fundraising is still ongoing for that flight. Right now there are 650 veterans on a waiting list.