Exclusive — Airline Director of Vets Initiatives on US Airways Incident: 'I'm Embarrassed'

Exclusive — Airline Director of Vets Initiatives on US Airways Incident: 'I'm Embarrassed'

Breitbart News spoke with Captain Jim Palmersheim, the Managing Director of Veterans Initiatives at American Airlines, about the altercation that took place on Thursday morning when a U.S. Airways flight attendant reportedly refused to hang Sgt. Albert Marle’s dress blue jacket because he wasn’t a first-class passenger.

Captain Palmersheim is a United States Army veteran who served as Honorary Commander of 457th Fighter Squadron and his son was an Army pilot who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both are currently pilots for American Airlines. 

Captain Palmersheim said the airline attendant’s behavior was unacceptable and insulting to the military community. “That jacket should have been hung up.”

Palmersheim’s primary duty as the head of veterans initiatives for the airline company is to express gratitude to those who serve, and he understands that the military uniform is a symbol of patriotism and sacrifice.

“With regard to the experience on fight 1930, I must say, we did not get this one right. But we are certainly doing everything we can to support those who serve” he said. “We want people to know that Sgt. Marle’s experience is not indicative of the things that we do… on a personal level, I’m embarrassed.”

Palmersheim currently serves on the advisory board for the Gary Sinise Foundation and Snowball Express, both of which strive to improve the quality of life for military service men and women.

American Airlines has a long-standing history of supporting the military and has multiple initiatives to provide air travel, promote positive morale welfare, and to offer family services to active duty service members and veterans. 

In the past, they have chosen not to publicize their support for the military, because they don’t do it for PR purposes. In light of the incident between Sgt. Marle and the U.S. Airways attendant, however, they want to apologize. 

What can the airline company do to make sure that an incident like this doesn’t happen again?

“We just have to do a better job of communicating to every employee how important it is that the men and women who serve and their families are priority for us,” he said. “Our airline is named for our country… we have a flag on the tail.”

On behalf of American Airlines, Captain Palmersheim has released this statement:

As a veteran, a Captain for American and the senior manager of American Airlines Veterans and Military Initiatives Programs, I would like to offer my sincere apology to the military service member and his fellow passengers who encountered an unfortunate situation earlier this week in which a decorated member of the military was prevented from placing his uniform in the closet, particularly because it is not indicative of the core values of our airline.

As a former Army Aviator, with a son who also serves, I am proud to work alongside a team of dedicated colleagues at American and USAirways who are committed to supporting programs that make a difference, and I am proud to have the unwavering support of our chairman and CEO Doug Parker and the entire leadership team. In fact, this year marks our 8th year to partner with an organization called Snowball Express, serving the families of our fallen service members killed since 9-11; we are proud to donate the use of 10 charter flights to bring nearly 2000 children and spouses of the fallen to Dallas/Fort Worth each December for four days of activities.

Later this month, we will host the annual Sky Ball at our hangar at DFW Airport. More than 1400 volunteers from American and US Airways step up to raise awareness and funds that support military service members and their families. This year will raise nearly $2 million – a new record. We are proud to partner with the Gary Sinise Foundation and Gary’s mission to build “smart homes” for our nation’s catastrophically wounded service members. To date more than 30 homes have been built or are in the process of construction. Since 2010 we have been the official airline partner for the USO and have collaborated on many important projects in support of their mission. In November we will donate the use of an aircraft, with volunteer flight crews, to bring wounded service members from Bethesda Military Medical Center to Las Vegas for four days of celebrating their service to our country, through an event called Salute to the Troops. We are proud to donate a number of Honor Flights providing trips to our Nation’s Capital for members of the greatest generation and just this past August we donated an aircraft to fly 114 Vietnam Veterans from Oshkosh, Wisconsin and Washington, DC to visit the memorial built in their honor, Arlington National Cemetery and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. 

I share all of this not to deflect, but to try and provide a little understanding of just how committed we are to our active and retired military and how seriously we are taking this situation.To be sure, we simply did not get this one right. We will always try to do better and work hard to align our core values – especially as they relate to the commitment we have to our men and women in uniform – with the experience our customers have on our planes every day.


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