CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Military service members and veterans will get a special ‘welcome home’ at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport on Wednesday.

The airport, along with Patriot Guard Riders and Blue Star Mothers, will hold ‘Operation Handshake‘ starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday. People will line the concourse exits to greet active military and veterans with waving flags, handshakes and words of thanks for their service.

Haley Abbas, marketing and communications manager for the Ford Airport, said it is always special to see the reactions from the service members and veterans as they come through.

“They’re just so incredibly thankful. It’s usually just such a wonderful thing to see the expressions on their faces. They arrive off their plane, they’re coming here to West Michigan and just to pause to take a moment to just thank them for all that they’ve done for our county,” Abbas said. “It’s something that we think that you can never do enough of, is thanking them. So it’s really important and they’re always just so incredibly grateful, their family members who might be arriving with them, their spouses, their children. They’re all … always just so shocked and just so thankful for how they’re received here at the airport.”

If you know a service member or veteran who will be coming through, you can email their flight information to Phil Pakiela with Patriot Guard Riders at