Air Force Pilot to be Honored on Rose Parade Float

Published : Saturday, December 30, 2017 | 5:57 AM

U.S. Air Force photo

A handmade floragraph with Maj. Benjamin Meier’s likeness will be part of the Donate Life America Rose Parade Float. The floral portrait is made of dried flowers, seeds and spices. According to the organization, the Donate Life America’s Rose Parade Float is part of a national effort of more than 50 organizations that have teamed up to deliver a message that becoming an organ donor can help save and heal lives. U.S. Air Force photo by Kenji Thuloweit

The U.S. Air Force and Donate Life America will honor the memory of former 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron pilot Maj. Benjamin “Chex” Meier, who died after he was struck in the head by the mirror of a passing truck while jogging at Edwards Air Force Base in 2015.

Meier’s likeness will be in a handmade floragraph that will be part of the Donate Life America Rose Parade float, the result of a national effort where more than 50 organizations joined forces to share how being an organ donor can help save lives.

Airmen of the 31st TES joined Meier’s family in a ceremony at Hangar 1810 on December 8 where his squadron finished decorating the floragraph. The group placed its personal touches in the design and by adding his nickname on his uniform and signing the back of his portrait.

The floral portrait is made of dried flowers, seeds and spices, and will be placed on the Donate Life America Rose Parade Float.

“Major Benjamin Meier saved the lives of many through his service as an Air Force pilot,” said David Fleming, president and CEO of Donate Life America. “We are grateful to partner with the Air Force to honor Major Meier’s memory as not only a war hero, but also as a donor who helped save and heal the lives of many more through organ, eye, and tissue donation.”

Meier was declared brain dead less than 24 hours after the accident. An organ donor, he was able to provide his heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys to at least seven people who live on to this day.

“The ultimate gift anyone can give is the gift of time,” said Tom Mone, chairman of the Donate Life Rose Parade Float committee and CEO of OneLegacy. “We are deeply grateful to all of our Donate Life Rose Parade Float sponsors who are helping us spread the word about the importance of donation on one of the biggest stages in the world, the Tournament of Roses Parade. Our sponsors’ continuous and unconditional work within their communities empowers organ, eye and tissue recipients as well as donor families to share their stories and inspire others to register.”

Meier was a combat veteran who received the Air Force’s Air Medal before flying F-35s as part of the 31st TES’ operational test and evaluation mission. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery and is survived by his wife, two young sons, two sisters and parents.

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