January 31, 2006

They're still at it in Bangor...

I chanced upon this picture, and had to post it, because I blogged about these guys (and gals), the Maine Troop Greeters, back in August of 2004.

Maine Troop Greeters at Bangor Airport

Marine veteran Jerry Mundy, a member of the Maine Troop Greeters, helps Army Spc. Talos Arend with a free cell phone call as his unit passes through the Bangor International Airport, Maine, on Monday. The group, which includes veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, has offered greetings, cookies and free cell-phone use to military personnel on flights to and from the Middle East region since May 2003.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images. Found at Army Times Frontline Photos 1-31-06. [link to photo]

Here's a bit from that story I blogged, 3 A.m. With the VFW, by SGT Michael Thomas:

...As I walked off the plane, I was taken aback: in the small, dimly-lit airport, a group of elderly veterans lined up to shake our hands. Some were standing, some confined to wheelchairs, all wore their uniform hats. Their now-feeble right hands arms stiffened in salutes, their left hands holding coffee, snacks and cell phones for us.

As I made my way through the line, each man thanking me for my service, I choked back tears. Here we were, returning from one year in Iraq where we had portable DVD players, three square meals and phones, being honored by men who had crawled through mud for years with little more than the occasional letter from home.

These soldiers – many of whom who had lost limbs and comrades – shook our hands proudly, as if our service could somehow rival their own.

We soon learned that this VFW group had not only waited for more than a day in the airport for our arrival, but that they were doing so for all the returning soldiers.

When the time came to fly home to Colorado, we were asked by our commander if we would like to join the VFW. Every hand in the unit went up eagerly – including my own.

Looking back on my year in Iraq, I can honestly say that my perception of the experience was changed; not so much by the soldiers with whom I served – though I consider them my saving grace – but by the soldiers who welcomed us home. For it is those men who reminded me what serving my country is really about...
Posted by John Weidner at January 31, 2006 5:33 PM
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