Smithfield to fund Honor Flight for 83 veterans

By Rob Swenson For SiouxFalls.Business

The philanthropic branch of Smithfield Foods Inc. presented a $125,000 donation on Thursday to Midwest Honor Flight to sponsor a September trip to Washington, D.C. to honor 83 military veterans.

The contribution from the Smithfield Foundation will fund a sightseeing tribute in the nation’s capital for veterans who served during World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War.

A formal presentation featuring representatives of Smithfield Foods, the Midwest Honor Flight program and veterans was held at Veterans Memorial Park in Sioux Falls.

Mark Wiggs, plant manager at the Smithfield meat-processing plant in Sioux Falls, said the company is passionate about hiring veterans and that honoring them is the right thing to do.

“Part of Smithfield’s social purpose is to honor those who have dedicated themselves in service to our country,” Wiggs said. “We strive to make sure military members and their families are supported, and we’re proud to partner with the Midwest Honor Flight organization to give our veterans this once-in-a-lifetime experience they have undoubtedly earned.”

Wiggs substituted at the check-presentation ceremony for Ken Sullivan, president and CEO of the Virginia-based company, which is owned by the Chinese company Shuanghui International Holdings. Sullivan was scheduled to attend the event, but a scheduling conflict prevented him from attending, officials said.

Smithfield is the largest pork producer and processor in the world. With approximately 3,600 employees, the Smithfield plant in Sioux Falls is one of the community’s largest employers.

Wiggs declined to answer any questions about plant operations or improvements being made at the Sioux Falls plant. He said he wanted to keep the day’s focus on veterans and the Honor Flight program.

Late last year, Smithfield announced it is investing nearly $45 million and adding 70 jobs in Sioux Falls.

Smithfield’s donation will sponsor the fifth-ever flight for the Midwest Honor Flight organization. Veterans and their chaperones from South Dakota, northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota will see sights such as Arlington National Cemetery and memorials that honor soldiers.

“This is a way to show our appreciation and say thank you to those who served, and we are grateful to Smithfield for showing their support and gratitude for military veterans in such a generous way,” said Aaron Van Beek, volunteer president and director of Midwest Honor Flight.

Bill Kortemeyer, a Vietnam veteran who served in the Air Force, was among the other speakers the ceremony. He said he is grateful and will never forget the experience he had as a guest in the program’s second flight for veterans.

“I’ve never received so much honor and respect as I did that day,” he said.

Smithfield announces major improvements, jobs coming to Sioux Falls operation

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Smithfield to fund Honor Flight for 83 veterans

The philanthropic branch of Smithfield Foods Inc. presented a $125,000 donation on Thursday to Midwest Honor Flight to sponsor a September trip to Washington, D.C. to honor 83 military veterans.

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