ARLINGTON, Texas — The honorees invited to the opening ceremony of the National Medal of Honor Museum had no clue about a huge surprise planned for the event.
During the event hosted by American Airlines, active Marines escorted the honorees, which included Major General Patrick Brady. His service record is unmatched.
"Well, in two years in Vietnam, I flew 2,500 combat missions and rescued 5,000 people," said Brady, "In nine years in Vietnam, dust-off helicopter ambulances rescued almost a million people men, women, children, enemy as well."
American Airlines put together a VIP list to help celebrate the men and women in the one-of-a-kind museum recognizing recipients of the Medal of Honor. It's the nation's highest award for valor in combat.
The invitees included Mark Calloway, better known as the Undertaker from the WWE, who entertained troops during wartime.
Mark Calloway said, "The looks on the soldiers faces as our helicopters, our helicopters were landing. They were. And they were just totally shocked."
Even after an unexpected successful career in the WWE, Calloway recognizes his wife, Michelle, for being by his side. She's proud of his success and will help celebrate his induction into the Wrestling Hall of Fame.
During Thursday night's event, American Airlines revealed a huge surprise to the Medal of Honor recipients and their guests. The decals on the aircraft do far more than thank them for their service.
Command Master Chief Brit Slovyansk is also one of the people being celebrated as a Medal of Honor recipient.
Slovyansk said, "I'm feeling just marvelous. I mean, look at this now. So, Congressional Medal of Honor Museum, it is going to happen right here in Arlington. What an amazing night."
Brady is not only thankful for the museums, but also current and future soldiers.
"If you don't make a career out of it, even if you don't decide that that's what you want out of life, you will grow out a better person," said Brady.
On Friday morning, the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation (NMOHMF) today broke ground on the one-of-a-kind museum. The groundbreaking was attended in person by 15 Medal of Honor recipients who earned their Medals during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan – including the nation’s last living World War II recipient, 98-year-old Woody Williams.
CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper served as emcee of the event, and former President George W. Bush offered remarks underscoring the important role the Museum will play in ensuring the stories of our greatest heroes live on to inspire future generations of Americans.
“When you're looking at a Medal of Honor recipient, you’re looking at someone who has demonstrated gallantry under impossible odds. You’re looking at someone who has placed duty above self. You’re looking at someone who understands the meaning of sacrifice in the most profound way. And you’re looking at a person of integrity, fortitude and patriotism. You’re looking at honor,” said President Bush. “And these values must be preserved, protected and passed onto future generations, and that is why the National Medal of Honor Museum is so important.”
The ceremony also featured a military flyover by the 301st Fighter Wing from Joint Base Fort Worth.