The San Antonio Chamber of Commerce was honored to be among the more than 100 active duty military members, veterans, community leaders, and Union Pacific employees gathered for a ceremony to unveil a special train engine at Sunset Station in San Antonio on October 19.
UP No. 1943 is the 16th commemorative locomotive in that company’s 155-year history.
“This locomotive is a salute to all of America’s active military and veterans,” said Brenda Mainwaring, assistant vice president – public affairs for UP’s Southern Region during her remarks to the audience.
Speakers included Judge Nelson Wolff; Maj. Gen. Brian Lein, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School Health Readiness Center of Excellence at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston; Col. Jupe Etheridge, the commander of the 12th Operations Group at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph; and Chris Pesses, a Union Pacific employee and Marine Corps veteran.
The engine’s name, “The Spirit” recalls a B-17 Flying Fortress that UP’s employees paid for in 1943 using war bonds. That airplane, known as “The Spirit of the Union Pacific,” was then assigned to the 571st Bomber Squadron and later shot down in Europe.
Union Pacific is proud to count more than 20% of their employees as military retirees and veterans. According to Mainwaring, former and serving military and current members of the National Guard and Reserve participated in UP No. 1943’s design. The Spirit’s paint scheme incorporates colors, emblems, and patterns from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The engine also features a POW-MIA flag along with the company’s familiar American flag.
San Antonio was selected as its first stop on UP’s “Salute to the Military Tour” because of the city’s reputation and nickname, “Military City USA.” As it travels from town to town, the locomotive will afford the opportunity for thousands of people to take a moment to reflect on the service of our military.