Air Zoo Hosts Military Appreciation Night

Story Number: NNS091217-25Release Date: 12/17/2009 6:48:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph R. Wax, Navy Recruiting District Michigan Public Affairs

PORTAGE, Mich. (NNS) -- The Air Zoo in Portage, Mich., an aviation museum that houses more than 50 aircraft displays and offers multiple aviation simulators, interactive movies and rides, hosted a military appreciation night Dec. 11.

Admission to the event was free to all active-duty military members and their families, as well as families of currently deployed service members.

"The goal of the event was to put smiles on the faces of our military members and their families," said Jennifer Cunningham, the Air Zoo communications and public relations manager, as well as a newly commissioned ensign in the Navy Reserves. "We know that while our country rallies behind its troops, sometimes the families are forgotten. We wanted to let them know that we haven't forgotten them and that we know they serve just as much as their family members in uniform."

The Air Zoo's military appreciation night was made possible by donations from local businesses and military supporters.

"It was very, very easy to get so many sponsors," said Cunningham. "All we had to do was call them and tell them it was an event honoring service members and their families and most jumped at the chance to help with no questions. Southwest Michigan really does appreciate its military and this event just proved that."

In addition to admission, service members and their families were treated to food, drinks, family photos and door prizes. The top prize was roundtrip airfare for two to Florida, which was won by Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Michael Thurber, the recruiter in charge of Navy Recruiting Station Battle Creek.

"Being an aviation Sailor, this was a good opportunity to spend time with the family and show what we do when we aren't recruiting," said Thurber. "This is cool. As a recruiter we are involved in the community a lot. For all the military around here, it's nice to know we are loved."

"As an aviation history museum, we cannot talk about the advances in aircraft without talking about the military and their contribution," said Cunningham. "The Air Zoo also could not function without its group of 200 active volunteers. Most of them are veterans or spouses of veterans."

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