Discover and Operation Homefront have teamed up to reunite a U.S. military family, the Ericksons, at Six Flags St. Louis in Missouri. Army National Guard Sgt. Ashley Erickson surprised her three children, Parris, Nova and Evan, at a special Six Flags ceremony after returning from a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan.
As a way to show gratitude for military service members, Discover flew Sgt. Erickson’s husband, Cpl. Maurice Erickson, and their three children from Ft. Stewart Georgia to Six Flags St. Louis for an all-expense paid VIP experience. The surprise homecoming was planned to coincide with the theme park’s celebratory Salute to Heroes event that featured a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress and a TBF Avenger aircraft fly-over as a salute to all active and veteran military service members. Discover employees who are veteran service members acted as greeters for the family and other service members entering the park for the day.
“My husband and I are ecstatic,” said Sgt. Erickson. “This is a once in a lifetime experience, to have Operation Homefront and Discover do this for us is like nothing I could have ever imagined. Thank you Operation Homefront and Discover for giving my family this opportunity.”
Today’s experience was special to the Ericksons because Maurice leaves in 16 days for a one-year remote tour in Korea.“This reunion created a lifetime of memories for the Ericksons and we are incredibly thankful, and honored, to have been able to make this powerful connection happen for them,” said Laura Gingiss, Discover spokeswoman. “The Ericksons are heroes who truly deserved every second of this day and we wouldn’t have been able to make this happen if it wasn’t for the help and support of our partners, Operation Homefront and Six Flags.” Operation Homefront has been a Cashback Bonus charitable partner with Discover for more than five years. To date, more than $300,000 has been donated to Operation Homefront by Discover and its cardmembers. Through the program, Discover cardmembers may designate their Cashback Bonus to Operation Homefront starting at a donation of $20. In conjunction with today’s surprise homecoming event, Discover will be donating up to $10,000 to Operation Homefront on a national level and up to $5,000 to the organization’s Kansas-Missouri Field Office. “Discover and its cardmembers have been steadfast supporters of our Armed Forces,” said Tim Farrell, Chief Operating Officer for Operation Homefront. “Today’s reunion for the Erickson family is a very concrete and personal demonstration of that support, and we’re grateful to Discover and Six Flags for helping us celebrate America’s military families.”