Air Force veteran -- a Boeing leader -- pitches a salute to armed forces

With nearly 15 percent of Boeing's employees having military backgrounds, the annual Boeing-sponsored "Salute to Armed Forces" baseball game in Seattle is a natural fit.

April 17, 2018 in Our Community

This year, the military veteran from Boeing who took the mound at the Seattle Mariners’ “Salute to Armed Forces” baseball game really put her own “English” – or spin -- on the ball.

Ursula English opened the Boeing-sponsored April 14 event by hurling the ceremonial first pitch, and said she did it to represent both facets of her career in the military and at Boeing, and for Boeing’s many veterans.

English began her career more than three decades ago as a U.S. Air Force jet engine mechanic. When she left the armed services four years later, she joined Boeing as a mechanic. Over the years, she worked her way through the ranks to her current position as vice president of Environment, Health & Safety at Boeing.

“It’s an absolute honor to represent not just Boeing, but all of the women and men serving our nation. Great company, great country,” said English, who also serves as the executive sponsor of the Boeing Employees Veterans Association (BEVA).

The veterans organization has more than 1,000 members in Washington state alone. It hosts year-round recognition, community engagement and networking events to ensure that veterans’ dedication and service are never forgotten.

“Helping veterans transition to civilian careers at Boeing is an honor. I started as a jet mechanic at Boeing, and my career demonstrates how the military prepares you well for success, as does Boeing,” English said.

“Boeing was there for me. I want to be there for Boeing and for the veterans who join our team,” she said.

Supporting veterans is one of Boeing’s primary charitable missions. In 2018, Boeing’s charitable grant programming includes a three-year commitment of more than $30 million in support of veterans’ recovery and rehabilitation programs and transition services. Last year, Boeing committed nearly $8 million in veterans grant investments, representing a year-over-year increase of 50 percent from 2016 to 2017.

Boeing also sponsors similar events with Major League Baseball teams elsewhere, including St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

Linda Mills, vice president of Communications for Commercial Airplanes, brought her husband, also a veteran of the U.S. armed services, to the event.

“Our partnership with the Mariners is great example of one home team supporting another,” said Mills. “It’s a privilege to have community partners that help us celebrate the men and women who serve our country.”

Chris Ahsmann, vice president and program manager of the P-8 program and BDS Senior Executive in the Puget Sound agreed as he cheered not just English’s swift pitch, but the Mariners’ 10-8 win. “It’s such a pleasure to celebrate an evening with our nation’s veterans,” he said. “I love that Boeing sponsors events like this.”

By Deborah Feldman