Operation Home for the Holidays helps Minot Airmen return home

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kyle Wilson
  • 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

For many Americans, the holiday season is a time spent with loved ones, exchanging gifts, and expressing gratitude for blessings received throughout the year. For military service members, the costs of traveling during this time can be expensive. This is especially true for Airmen assigned to Minot AFB, due to its location in the far northern United States.                 

Operation Home for the Holidays is a program implemented by U.S. Air Force Col. Daniel Hoadley, 5th Bomb Wing commander, and U.S. Air Force Col. Kenneth McGhee, 91st Missile Wing commander, in partnership with leaders from the local Minot community, which raises funds to cover travel costs for Team Minot's Airmen during the holiday season.

Through the combined efforts of the local Minot community and Team Minot's leadership, the program was able to raise approximately $125,000. These funds will be used throughout the holiday season to purchase airline tickets for Minot Airmen.

Airman 1st Class Giovanni Palafox, 91st Missile Maintenance Squadron missile maintainer, is one such Airman who got the opportunity to return home due to Operation Home for the Holidays. Thanks to the program, he was able to travel home free-of-charge to Porterville, California and spend Thanksgiving with his family.

"Operation Home for the Holidays was a huge relief for me," said Palafox. "The prices for airline tickets are very expensive around this time of the year and it was amazing getting to see my family and spend Thanksgiving with them."   

Palafox says he is thankful for the program and those who organized it, and he hopes it will continue to provide Airmen the opportunity to see their families during holiday seasons in the coming years.

"Being away from your family is always hard, but this is the time of the year when you want to see them the most," said Palafox. "I'm very grateful for the people who gave me this opportunity and I just want to say thank you."

Another Airman who took advantage of the program was Airman Jasmine Neill, 705th Munitions Squadron nuclear weapons technician, who received a free ticket to fly home to Upstate New York where she celebrated Thanksgiving with her family.

"I was so happy and excited, because I wasn't really sure when the next time I would be able to go home was," said Neill. "When my Mom saw me at the airport, she was so happy she started crying."

Neill says she is very grateful for Operation Home for the Holidays and she has a message for the people who organized it.

"I'd like to say thank you to everybody who contributed to this," said Neill. "I wish you knew how much it meant to me to see my family and be with them for Thanksgiving."