SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV) Just as thousands came together to remember Officer Jorge Alvarado Jr. Thursday morning, one organization made sure Alvarado's Family could be together.
"When we find out about a fallen officer, we are trying to provide flights within hours of the attack," said Fletcher Gill, Founder and CEO Luke's Wings Inc.
The news of Officer Alvarado's death, not only shook the Central Coast community, it made headlines across the Central Coast. That's how Luke's Wings, a non-profit based in Washington D.C., heard about Salinas' fallen officer.
The organization provides free flights to reunite families of officers injured in the line of duty or those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Luke's Wings, connected with a local agency to make sure Officer Alvarado's family and friends had the opportunity to attend the memorial, no matter the distance.
"We provided a flight for his father from Nicaragua. We provided a flight for his nephew, who was at basic training at Fort Benning. We provided flights for his battle buddies from the 101st Airborne, and we provided flights for pretty much anybody who needed to get to the funeral," continued Gill.
Luke's Wings donated 12 airline tickets to Officer Alvarado's loved ones, including cousins and friends. The organization partners with four major airline carriers to provide these emergency flights.
"When there's an attack on a law enforcement officer, the first few hours are chaotic, there's noise and everybody is trying to help and the family's in shock. We're here with an unlimited number of airplane tickets," added Gill.
Luke's Wings' original mission was to connect families with wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans. In 2016, the organization expanded, adding a Fallen Officers Transportation Assistance Program.
"Officer Alvarado was a veteran. He was in the 101st Airborne, and so not only does he qualify for our fallen officer's transportation assistance program because he's a law enforcement officer, but he also qualifies for our program because he's a veteran," Gill.
Gill adds, sadly for their Fallen Officers Transportation Assistance Program, the organization is doing more flights to funerals than for hospital visits.
Luke's Wings wants people, especially those who have family in law enforcement, to know that they are only a phone call away, but hope its a phone number they never have to use. That information can be found here.
Every year the organization provides around 2,000 airplane tickets, 14,000 since it was founded in 2008.