With going to Pease Tradeport Sunday evening, and welcoming a plane of Marines coming home from Afghanistan, I wanted to share with you some information and pictures about our evening there. Pease Tradeport in Portsmouth, NH is usually the last US City for our soldiers to make their connecting flights to their overseas destination, and the first US City upon returning home from overseas. Please view the website www.PeaseGreeters.org for additional details.
Danny and I got there and you never know how many Greeters there will be. Tonight was a lot/hundreds of all ages waiting to cheer and thank our troops. Some Veteran’s that are there wear their uniforms, some hats, shirts, vests, or something with their military information. Tears filled my eyes as the older Veterans are usually the ones with their full uniforms on as they come with their walkers, canes, wheelchairs, and are always eager to shake hands and talk to you. Greeters come from all over New England….and some are always there at every flight to greet our troops. Pizza, soda, coffee, snacks, and more are donated to the organization so we can have something for our troops to eat when they arrive. We have cell phones available for them so they can make calls and tell their families…….”I am almost home”……….the hallways are lined with people, many bring their dogs as well. One of the Marines told us last night that the leader of the plane has to tell the troops that they are allowed to pet the dogs here. Apparently, when they are in Afghanistan, some of the dogs over there are somehow wired with explosives because the enemy knows the soldiers are always eager to pet the dogs. If they do pet them, it could trigger an explosion so they are very cautious.
When you hear the music start and the gate opens…..that is the key that our troops are entering the building/hallway…..hands clap, people cheer and we say “thank you” to all of them walking down the hallways…it is overwhelming for them, and you can see that some do not know how to react. It brings tears to your eyes when you see the returning troops stop and shake hands with the Veterans. They exchange words closely and smile………the kids are cheering and waving their flags not really understanding, however, some of the soldiers stop and salute them and shake their little hands……I am sure that they are thinking about their own kids at home waiting to hug them. Once they get situated and grab something to eat or drink, we start talking to as many as we can. Sometimes awkward at first, but the conversation starts. They are always eager to tell you about where they live, their families, and their kids. Most have phones and show pictures. Several of the soldiers we spoke to both male and female were on their 5th tour, and others, it was their first. One soldier, Matthew, this was his 5th tour. He said that this was his second time going thru Pease and it always amazed him what we did. He said at other airports people did nothing and did not say much. Matthew told us that he was a leader of a helicopter division. He went back for a 5th time because he said that their unit brought mail to the troops and the mail is like gold to them. They also brought care packages, and even though they had the same supplies, it meant the world of difference receiving a care package in the mail………..and of course, they did front line air duties as well. Sometimes they share with you and other times they do not. Danny and I met one soldier, and he looked about 20 and he was an explosive expert…….sometimes with the flights headed overseas, they are so nervous and don’t know what the next nine months will bring……
We never know what branch is coming in or how many. This one was dear to my heart because they were Marines as my dad was a Marine. As I spoke to many of them, 21 seemed to be the age that I spoke to…..I could not help but to think of my dad at 21…..he had served four years and fought at Iwo Jima and other foreign land and was returning home……he was 17 went he went in….I will be doing another series supporting and saluting our military. Look for details the first of the year. In the meantime, if you would like to donate to The Pease Greeters, please go to their website above for details, or check your own local area for organizations. I know that Christmas seems far away, but it is not……if you could put on your list to get a stocking together or package, it would mean so much to one soldier………..Please view our website …. www.UnforgettableFacesandStories.com
Please remember that Dads, Dedications & Daughters, a % of profit goes to Wounded Warrior Project.
Ps-this is from one of our soldiers….there are so many, however, I chose this one to share with you….
Words are not enough to express our gratitude for how the beautiful people of New Hampshire gave us the deploying troops the warm welcome and send off last 15 August 2013. Thank you and Thank you so much. To the last moment before we boarded our plane, I was still in deep awe how you all gave us the love and support for the mission that we are about to embark.
God bless you all for your thoughts and prayers. America is great because of people like you who continually to support our troops. My gratitude and also to the men and women who defended this country we love before us. Without you, we will not have the freedom and liberty we all cherish.
At your most convenience, kindly send a copy of the pictures to my wife and kids
My wife and kids will be happy to see the wonderful things you have done for us through this CD pictures.
God Bless you all.