Mark Lehman thought he was about to start just another average work day — until he walked into the airport hangar and saw his friends and family.
As a lead ground service equipment technician for United Airlines at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Lehman has worked with airplanes on a daily basis for almost 30 years. And on Tuesday morning, he was surprised with a ceremony unveiling his name on the side of one.
As part of United’s November salute to veterans, the airline placed the name “Cpl. Mark Lehman” on the side of a B737-9 jetliner just below the cockpit window.
"I really think veterans will appreciate seeing a veteran honored in this way," Jim Casey, United’s senior manager of operational transformation in Chicago, told Cleveland.com. “We hope to expand the program beyond just veterans to others, what we might say are United heroes."
Lehman was chosen first for this honor because of his military service, including deployment to Okinawa, and his volunteer work in the community.
Friends and family were on hand to detail Lehman’s community service, including providing food and coffee to local police departments, assisting in high school drama productions, and building backyard patios for veterans in Northeast Ohio with the organization Patios for Patriots.
"He's the most unselfish person I've ever met," Patios for Patriots co-founder Jason Geiser told Cleveland.com. "Mark has taken vacation days to come out and work a full day in the hot sun just to help other veterans."
Lehman said he “almost cried” when he pulled he saw his name revealed on the side of the aircraft. “It's something I never expected beyond my wildest belief,” he said.