Honoring the military members was the idea of the Gary Sinise Foundation, which assists military families and first-responders. The actor co-starred in “Forrest Gump,” playing Lt. Dan, who lost his legs in Vietnam. The foundation teamed up with American Airlines, Disney and others to help with arrangements for the four-day trip.
The service members – each could bring a guest – had surprises along the way – including a trip to Paramount Studios and a red-carpet welcome at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Anaheim. Celebrities, including Tim Allen, greeted them in Hollywood. Tom Hanks, who played Forrest Gump, introduced a showing of the 1994 movie.
Sinise accompanied the guests in Anaheim.
A highlight was the evening flag retreat in Disneyland’s Town Square, when the American flag is lowered. With the service members there, and signs about saying this was a special military tribute, a bigger crowd than usual showed up. Some women dabbed eyes as patriotic songs played.
The trip was filmed for ABC-TV’s “Countdown to the Oscars” program, which will air at 8 p.m. on Thursday.