Honoring Our Heroes
We are very grateful to everyone who has taken the time to write and express his or her gratitude to the troop greeters. This is just a small sample of emails we have received. Letters on various topics have been depersonalized to maintain privacy of the authors and their family members.
"I'm Tired"
by: Joe Repya,
Lieutenant Colonel , U. S. Army

Two weeks ago, as I was starting my sixth month of duty in
Iraq , I was
forced to return to the
USA for surgery for an injury I sustained prior to
my deployment. With luck, I'll return to
Iraq to finish my tour.

I left
Baghdad and a war that has every indication that we are winning, to
return to a demoralized country much like the one I returned to in 1971
after my tour in
Vietnam. Maybe it's because I'll turn 60 years old in
just four months, but I'm tired.

I'm tired of spineless politicians, both Democrat and Republican who lack
the courage, fortitude, and character to see these difficult tasks through.

I'm tired of the hypocrisy of politicians who want to rewrite history when
the going gets tough.

I'm tired of the disingenuous clamor from those that claim they 'Support
the Troops' by wanting them to 'Cut and Run' before victory is achieved.

I'm tired of a mainstream media that can only focus on car bombs and
casualty reports because they are too afraid to leave the safety of their
hotels to report on the courage and success our brave men and women are
having on the battlefield.

I'm tired that so many Americans think you can rebuild a dictatorship into
a democracy over night.

I'm tired that so many ignore the bravery of the Iraqi people to go to the
voting booth and freely elect a Constitution and soon a permanent

I'm tired of the so called 'Elite Left' that prolongs this war by giving
aid and comfort to our enemy, just as they did during the
Vietnam War.

I'm tired of antiwar protesters showing up at the funerals of our fallen
soldiers. A family who's loved ones gave their life in a just and
noble cause, only to be cruelly tormented on the funeral day by
cowardly protesters is beyond shameful.

I'm tired that my generation, the Baby Boom -- Vietnam generation, who
have such a weak backbone that they can't stomach seeing the difficult
tasks through to victory.

I'm tired that some are more concerned about the treatment of captives
than they are the slaughter and beheading of OUR citizens and allies.

I'm tired that when we find mass graves it is seldom reported by the press,
but mistreat a prisoner and it is front page news.

Mostly, I'm tired that the people of this great nation didn't learn from
history that there is no substitute for Victory.

Joe Repya,
Lieutenant Colonel , U. S. Army
101st Airborne Division
Subject: With a week left, this article kind of wraps it all up. Probably not on the 5 o'clock news.
With 9 days left before out-processing, I just wanted to share with you possibly one last article on what we have done in the last three weeks.  Even though this describes an area just east of here, we’ve been doing the same thing in the south.
Nothing like showing up to a fist fight, taking your lumps, learning what caused it and applying those lessons by setting new strategy and then controlling the chaos the next time and coming out of it ahead and almost un-harmed.
There are a lot of great friends that will not be coming back with me who helped this all happen, those who believed in keeping the criminals busy over here rather than allowing them time to buy plane tickets to visit our homeland.
We did this all by not only fighting, but by taking a people and making them an Army.  Disregarding their simple ways and bringing out in them professional soldiers and leaders, compassionate countrymen to their own people and integrity that previously had been trampled by the corruption of a new government.  
For the fifth time, I will leave a counter-part of mine in the Afghan Army behind for a new job.  This time there are no apologies.  I am soon going to be able to get back home to lead my family and a great organization of people.
Everyday, all of us who are here will do our best when we get back home to lead in a way that would make our fallen comrades proud.   They gave all of us an understanding of just how precious life, our families and friends are and I’m sure ------- is expecting myself and all his returning brothers in arms to continue to “earn” what he has given to us.  Our Freedom.
As it may get busy here towards the end and communications in transit may be austere, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support for this mission, my family, each other and lastly my team here in Afghanistan .  Whether it be parents traveling all over the country to greet troops, a father who was there for my wife and kids, U of Arkansas beer cooler (no beer to be found), letters from school children, countless sundry items in the mail, bags of toys or school bags for children who are so deserving, a party on the way out, supportive notes and emails, girl scout cookies sent or world series programs, all of these things show so much support for what we are doing.  Trust me we wouldn’t be doing it for just anyone.  So drive home in peace and hug your kids, look at your countrymen and set aside differences, you are all worth every ounce of effort and sacrifice given. 
As I say to all my troopers, whether it be before we get into separate HMMWVs, depart on two separate attack routes, one of us is going and the other is staying behind or simply as we salute them one last time as they head home before us ceremonially or at the airfield………………. I’ll see you soon!
M. L..
Major, Infantry
There are additional messages below. Please scroll down the page.
The following was written by a Seabee who passed through Bangor en route to the Middle East.
The King of Rock & Roll was born on January the 8th.
So was the day we took to the skies
He spent his life in the City Memphis and we boarded the plane in the same place.
Our families were with us as we said goodbye, tried as we might most all were teary eyed.
We boarded the plane, waving goodbye to family and friends.
For months we'll be gone, till October or this war ends.
We sat quietly in our seats as the plane took flight;
Ipods playing music in our eyes to ease our fright
Landing in Los Angeles, LAX as it's known.
The Bob Hope USO calls it home.
We stayed a few hours, eating sandwiches and such.
We thanked them all for this was our lunch.
Along came a bus, loaded us on.
To Port Hueneme, for 2 months our new home
Close to Midnight by the time we arrived.
Checking in our room, 2 sea bags by our side
The following morning, only a few hours later
We began to wonder; what was the deal.
Running around, building to building,
We felt like mice running in a wheel.
M 16, 9 Mil and more
Targets we shot, then cleaned the bore.
Various training we all did partake.
And oh yes NKO, 100% was our fate.
With our issue of Kevlar, we also received canteens.
What the heck for, we questioned the team?
Our camel was good and will serve us fine,
Take the stuff said the Chief of mine.

Finally the time came, go board the plane.
First get your shots, they promised no pain.
15 pound carry on, no more, no less.
Throwing away our munchies, much to our distress.

Through the jet door, much to our surprise;
100's of soldiers, also ready to fly.
Seated like sardines on board our long flight.
5 hours till first stop, deep into the night.

Bangor Maine, we were greeted our last stop in this nation.
Check out their website: ,
They would appreciate a donation.
They shook our hands, thanked us for our service at midnight their time.
Dedicated Americans who work for not one dime.

2 hours later back on the plane
Headed for Germany, gone from the state of Maine.
As we saw the coast of the US in our rear,
The truth of war became reality to many and thus came fear.
12 hours later on our Generic named Plane.
We landed in Kuwait, and off we came.

Not much time to shower or to eat.
Our time in Kuwait, was hardly a feat.
Scheduled to be 3 to 5 days
Gone in 48 hours, just like a haze.

100 days have now since passed.
Can't wait till home at last.
We appreciate the prayers, letters from home.
And the occasional time for the phone.

Doing fine and AOK.
See you soon, when we're on our way.

Thanks Again,

A.L. "Chip" Wood, III  
I want to take this time to thank each and every one of you for your time and dedication to our young men and women in the military that pass through your airport.  Friday, April 6, I proudly but with great worry sent my oldest son off to war.  He will be serving his tour in Baghdad but on the way was able to call me from the airport in Maine.  As we were talking on the phone he told me to hold on a second, that he was getting his picture taken.  That’s when he told me about the Maine Troop Greeters.  You have no idea what it means to a very worried mother sending her boy off to war to have him greeted and honored in such a way as you are doing.  Thank you so much for seeing the brave young man that I see and for honoring him in such a way.  I will anxiously be checking your website to hopefully find pictures of my son, Sgt. Eric S., as he leaves behind a mother and father, grandparents and a pregnant wife to go make his mark in history.  Thank you again...Nadine P.
Dear everyone involved with the Maine Troop Greeters and American Legion Post 200,
I just wanted to write and thank you for what you do.  My husband deployed recently and it was so wonderful to be able to see the pictures of him that were taken in the Bangor Airport.  Thank you for being there to greet him and all his fellow Marines.  I'm sure it really lifted their spirits and I know seeing their pictures lifted my spirits.  So thank you again for all your hard work.  It's greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Lauren K.
Thanks to all of you who were gathered to say thanks to our soldiers … my nephew was one of them and I truly appreciate you taking the time.  Oklahoma City.
I received an email from a friend whose son recently returned from Iraq. she relayed a story about a WWII vet meeting her son at the airport when he arrived back in the US and how touched and honored he felt to be greeted with such warmth and kindness. 
Just wanted to say Thanks for everything you and your group do.  You are truly great Americans, thanks for keeping us safe.
I am so touched by what you are all doing. I would love to be there with you. I live in Southern California. I am going to see if I can find such a group here. If you know of one maybe you could send me info. I have been volunteering at the VA Hospital in Long Beach as an escort to help the Veterans get around. My husband helps me. We are not getting younger though and pushing some of the heavier wheel chairs and the beds from spinal is getting harder and harder for us to do.
God Bless all of you for showing love to the young men and women who put their lives on the line for us. No greater love is there, than to lay down your life for a friend, much less a stranger or your country.
Make sure the thing you're living for is worth dying for.   -Charles Mayas
Thank you for doing what you are doing for the moral of our troops coming home, I wish I could do the same, but we are 2 hours from a major airport.  May God continue to bless you as you bless others.Thank you, Sharon, Lahoma, OK
You greeted my son when he returned from Iraq last month.  This made such an impression on him.  He talked about it for several days.
I am so thankful for your efforts to show our troops they are appreciated. 
God Bless You All !!
Proud Marine Mom    Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!
Hi Dee. I think that would be his time, they were to leave Camp Lejeune at 3:00, spent a pretty dark night here but my thoughts were with all the troops and you folks.  Thanks again for all that you do, and please know how much it means to all the families.  Kate R.
Thank you very much for responding so quickly! I love the website, but even more what you all do. I think the world of you all who participate in this wonderful way to send our troops off to protect us. 
God Bless you all, Lisa R.
Hi, we just wanted to say thank you for what you do for our troops, it means so much to them and to the military families. Our son stopped over New Years Eve and it was comforting to know that you all were there to greet them and see them off. Thank you all from Marine parents, Jerry & Cathy M.
Hello, I'm one of the wives of the 2-23 Infantry that went through Bangor last night and I just wanted to say thank you so much for being there for our boys.  It's truly wonderful to know that there are people across the country who support our troops, and were there to lift their spirits after leaving us a few short hours beforehand.  Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart, and God Bless. Sincerely, Judy M
Keep Up the Good Work America and Continue To Support Our Troops!
Please read the following blog written by a grateful soldier...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The trip home started several days before. I left Baghdad on the 20th of December. I stayed in Kuwait for two nights, and left there on the 22nd. While in Kuwait, I realized how cold it can get there. At night, the temperature dropped down to about 39 degrees. It felt alot colder due to the moisture in the air. The tent I stayed in was sparse. They did not issue any blankets or pillows, so I had to sleep with extra clothes and use my bag as a pillow. I was also able to do so a little last minute Christmas shopping at an outdoor bazaar that had been set up at Ali Al Salem. After clearing Customs, we were put into a "holding" area while we waited for our outbound flight back to the US.


From Kuwait, we flew for about 4 hours, and landed in Budapest, Hungary. From there, we flew 4 hours to Shannon Ireland and then 6 hours to Bangor, Maine. We arrived at Bangor International Airport around 2 a.m. local time. As we walked down the ramp, we were greeted by about a dozen senior citizens whose sole purpose at that airport was to greet returning troops. They had a small shop that was filled with memorabilia from troops that had passed through, as well as cookies, drinks, and cell phones for us to call home. These people were so wonderful and lots of stories to tell to go along with all the pictures that were on display. If you would like to learn more about these wonderful people, I suggest that you visit their website at:

From there, it was on to home. We arrived at 9:45 am and was welcomed by two fire trucks that provided a water "arch" for the aircraft to taxi under as we pulled to the gate. As I walked down the gauntlet of people, I was amazed by the type of people that had decided to spend their Saturday morning welcoming us home for R&R. There were Girls Scouts, Brownies, Cub Scouts, Veterans both young and old, as well as just normal everyday citizens that felt the need to come out and greet us.


By the time I got outside the airport with my family, I realized that we all were carrying things that people had handed us on our way out. There were cards, candy bars, bottled water, and cookies. I didn't even realize that I had been handed this stuff. I was so overwhelmed by the show of support and by the emotions of seeing my family that I couldn't really comprehend what I was seeing. It was a day I will not soon forget.


What a sight! Today, as I got off the plane at the airport, attended a short briefing, and got my official papers stamped, I walked down a small hallway and could hear the sound of people clapping and cheering. And as I rounded the corner, the first thing I saw was my family. It had been almost 7 months since I had seen them last. And just like the last time I saw them, I was looking at them through tears.


I am currently serving at Kunsan Air Base, Korea and just heard a spot over AFN radio/CBS news about the Maine Troop Greeters welcoming the Soldiers home and sending them off.  The newscast took me back and I remember when I had the privilege off being welcomed home from the Veterans and Great Americans that line the Airport entry.  I was swelled up with pride when I saw the Veterans and their wives greeting my Soldiers and I, and it touched me because it was o-dark-30 in the morning.  I just wanted to say Thank You for what you have done and continue to do when our troops come and go.  It really means a lot to us to be sent off and welcomed home by the men and woman who have served our nation before us.  Thank You, M.L.A. 1SG, USA 
I read the article about you in GUIDEPOSTS November 2005. Bless you! Bless your efforts! YOU ARE BLESSING TO EACH AND EVERY SERVICEMAN/WOMAN! 
I saw a story on my local news this week about your group and thought how wonderful it was.  I have three brothers; one was a marine, one in the army, and one in the navy.  I have a deep patriotic background.  This July 19th I will turn 60 and my daughter wants to know what I want to do to mark this milestone.  I told her I want to go to Maine and be a troop greeter. If possible for me to arrange, can I do it? Instead of thinking about myself getting "old", I'd rather greet our military that may not get a chance to turn 60.  What better birthday could I have? 
I just read about you guys on the Marine Parent's website.  I got chills down my back knowing there are people outside of family that can commit the time you guys do to welcome our troops, my son home.  He is coming home soon and will go through Maine.  Bet I will ask him about you guys and your kindness.  Thank you so much for your support!!!!! You have no idea what it means to this family!

Thank you so much for what you are doing!!  I saw this on CBS news last night.  My son is currently serving in Iraq, so this newsworthy story made me stop what I was doing and watch.  I had just finished reading a book about the troop trains that stopped in North Platte, NE.  Keep it up - it means so much.

Thank you from the former wife of a Vietnam veteran who's feeling of pride in serving his country was evaporated by the protests.  He hasn't recovered. Keep up the good work! 
I didn't know of the greeters until seeing on T.V. recently. My son, in the US Army, leaves today for his 2nd tour in Iraq. I hope you all are there when he leaves the States. Thank-you with all my heart.... C's Mom, B.Y.---Abilene, Texas 
I cannot begin to express my deep gratitude for your wonderful and tireless support for our troops. I just, this evening, heard about the Maine Troop Greeters on NPR and I cried through the whole story. My 24 yr old son served 2 tours in Iraq with the Marine Infantry and came back last year with wounds that left him 75% disabled.  His battalion lost a lot of their "brothers" but to this day maintain an amazing sense of pride and purpose thanks to you and all Americans who support and appreciate our troops.  It makes a difference and I am so sorry for the men who returned from Vietnam and the inexcusable way they were treated.  Thank you so much and God Bless you all.   
Dear greeters: I just wanted to say thank you. I had a daddy in World War 2 and uncles who went to Korea. My husband went to Chu Lai in Nam and I have no one now in service but this is the first time a member of my family has not fought in a war since the revolution. I dont approve of this war any more than I did of Vietnam, but thats neither here nor there. I remember going alone to the airport and telling the men thank you in 1968 as they came home I remember wearing my POW bracelet. Preston Brice was his name and he never came home. All these years later I take that bracelet with the finish worn off and I put it on every Fourth of July in his honor. I cried over the coverage on TV of the planes and the coffins and the wounded each night on the news. The type of coverage on the news has sanitized this war but I remember and I know what we are not being shown. No matter what our opinions or politics its the troops, men and women old and young who go there and do what is asked of them who matter and there is a special place in my heart for the greeters of Maine who carry on. I am disabled and wish my health would allow me to visit you and join you in your mission to make these men and women see that they matter to us. Thank you, its easy for some to say they support the troops and to stick those little magnet ribbons on the car, fly a flag off the front porch and then go about normal business. But like the true Yankee stock that you are, you dont leave things to chance. You tell our American service men and women how you feel and I applaud you all for that. I send you a handshake, a hug, a kiss on the cheek and my undying gratitude for being our home guard sincerely G.A.  Rhode Island.  
I just wanted to send you this email after watching the story of you fine people on the CBS evening news. I am so glad to see that to this day you are still continuing to greet our troops. You all touched my life with such a huge impact in July 1993, when our company returned from Somalia and you all were the first to greet us and say thanks. To this day I still get choked up inside and say a thank you prayer for such wonderful people. It has been a while and Time got away from me with career and day-to-day events. I said, today I will not let time get away and just had to say thanks. I know that you have probably heard this over and over, but I will say it again.... God bless the volunteers and Veterans who greet the troops @ Bangor. You are all angels and I salute you. R.R.    Ocala, Florida  
As royal Saudi air force member, I greatly respect what had you done for us (red flag 2005), and for your great heroes. Keep it up. My best wishes 

Congratulations and thank you for your efforts to greet our troops. The MOAA chapter that I belong to in Carlisle, PA gave us a heads up about you wonderful people and your dedication. You certainly know the importance of giving. God Bless all of you!  B. B I served in the USAF from 1950-53, during the Korean War, so I'm an old man now.  However, my heart swells with pride for the great work you "Greeters" are doing.  Please accept my congratulations and thanks!  And keep up the good work!  

I just want to say thank you so much for your care and concern for the troops. Just a few minutes ago I received a phone call from my brother who left for Afghanistan early this morning. (May 19, 2005) It was because of you guys and your generosity that we were able to talk for a few minutes. It meant so much to me, and my family that someone was out there to help him along. Thank you for all that you do and God bless you all.  

My name is L. and when my husband came home from Iraq you guys were there to welcome him back to the USA with open arms, warm hearts, some goodies and a cell phone so he could call me.  THANK YOU!!!!!!  He says that this time coming home it felt like they were appreciated, that someone thought that they had done something good, and that made a big difference to him.  Thank you for showing your support of my husband and the other young Marines, soldiers and sailors (and the Military dogs too)

Dear Dee, I want to thank you so very much for taking the time to take care of the incoming soldiers and outgoing soldiers as well.  You will never know just how much The Greeters mean to the troops and their families!  Please thank all the other Greeters for the SSG D. H. Family!  And for all the troops from the 82nd!  You are doing a wonderful job and remember that this family will NEVER FORGET you and your kindness!!!! Sincerely,  Mrs. J. H.

Thank you so much for what you Wonderful Angels are doing for our Soldiers! I have cried the entire time I have read your stories. My son is with the 463rd EN BN, Army Reserve unit out of Marion, VA. He came through the Maine airport around the first of December. He called me from the airport, probably using the cell phones that you have available for the Soldiers. I can't thank you all enough for what you are doing for ALL SOLDIERS!!!

My son will be coming home sometime between Oct. and Dec. 2005. My heart fills with pride knowing that Angels will be there to greet him. He is only 20 years old; he left a boy but will come home a man. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!!! God bless you all, and thank you from a Soldier's mom.    
Read about your efforts in the L A Trash (L A Times). I live 3,000 miles from Bangor but I am with you in spirit, wish I could join you. WWII vet.   

I'm an Army Brat of 12 years and I just read your an article about you folks in the LA Times.  Finally our paper posts something positive about the troops!  The article brings tears to my eyes to know how actively you support our troops. You are the spirit Americans!!!  Out here in California you rarely see that! 


I'm on a "poor mans" computer; also know as web tv. Regretfully, I was not able to sign your guest book probably due to this contraption I'm using. Can't complain, it was donated to me by a group/organization called "Help Disabled War Vets", I believe, out of California.

Just wanted to give you a "Thank You" for what you are doing for our returning veterans. Lord knows they need it. Sure would not want to see these fine young men & women become what I have become-- a bitter & angry ole man. Bless you for your efforts, as I'm sure the rewards are plenty, even if never seen or heard by your group. I just want to say THANKS to all of you for what you are doing. Thank God for outstanding Americans like each of you!!!!!!!!!!! God bless you wonderful people! 

I just read about your group in a news article. I'm sitting here in tears of joy thinking about the wonderful thing you are doing for our service men and women.  As a Viet Nam Vet, I know from personal experience how much a positive welcome home can mean.  God Bless You!! 

I read the article in LA Times (4/20/05) and was inspired to write a letter to the editor that was published 4/24/05.  As a wife of a retired Marine and an LAPD officer whose sole job is to support our troops who have been activated, I was moved to tears about your efforts.  If any of the troops need a contact in the LAPD because they are interested in law enforcement, we would be glad to help.  If interested, please let me know and I will supply you with my husband's email and phone number at work.  Semper Fi

Just wanted to say THANK YOU. Wonderful thing you are doing.  You made a big difference in my brother in laws life that day he came home.  I am sure he will remember it fondly for the rest of his life...

I just finished an article in the Seattle Times about all of you and my wife & I wanted to send our great appreciation.  We got tears of happiness over your outward greetings for all the troops.  We have a Marine grandson who has returned through your facility two times in the past two years. Thanks You.

Thank you all so much for what you are doing to directly impact the lives of our returning service men and women, and to welcome them home.  

Hey there, about four weeks ago I came through Bangor on my way home.  I want you to know how much it meant to me to have all of you to greet us as we came off of the plane.  However words are nowhere near enough.  Through all the memories, both good and bad, I will never forget those of you I was able to sit and chat with.  I knew I was truly home then.  on a side note my time in the military is over and I would like to thank everyone of you that wore the uniform in the past because it was you that made it possible for me to put it on.  Thank you! Troop Greeters! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being there to welcome me on my stops through Bangor ... ... God bless each of you!

Thank you for your efforts to appropriately welcome our troops.   I hope that their sacrifice will prove the turning point for the Middle East. I just read about your group in a news article. I'm sitting here in tears of joy thinking about the wonderful thing you are doing for our service men and women.  As a Viet Nam Vet, I know from personal experience how much a positive welcome home can mean.  God Bless You!!

I just read a story about you in the LA Times.  I have been a Marine Corps wife for 12 years and never have I been so touched by someone's generosity, unselfishness and patriotism as I was when I read this article.  I just wanted to say THANK YOU; from the bottom of my heart for every minute you spend welcoming those troops home.  I am grateful to know that should my husband ever pass through Bangor, wonderful people like you will be there to welcome him back.  God Bless America!

Joshua Chamberlain would be proud of your efforts.  As a Vietnam era vet, I thank you all for your dedication and service to the soldiers.

Dear Maine Troop Greeters, I just read about your group in the Hartford Courant today.  The work you do and the love you show for our troops made me very teary-eyed in gratitude...  ... There should be a line item in the Pentagon budget just for your organization. 

Thanks again from an American who is very grateful and proud of what you do.
Congratulations to all of you. I am an Australian citizen and our guys get treated like dirt here in the media. If only there were people like you to welcome them home here in Oz. Congratulations again and God bless. 

I'll never forget the feeling of being welcomed home.  It brought tears to my eyes.  THANK YOU!!!! 

Just wanted to thank you. I just read about what you are doing. As a military spouse it is helpful knowing our boys are being welcomed home with such a warm reception. I am truly blessed that my husband has been state side for the entire conflict, but have many friends who are dealing with separations. So Thank You from Laughlin AFB, TX I will sleep better tonight knowing there are people like you in this world. 

I just want to thank you so much for doing what you do. Because of you I was able to hear from my fiancé one last time before he left the states for Iraq on December 31, it was a great surprise to hear from him, and I was touched that you let all the soldiers use cell phones to do so, thank you.

I would like to thank all of you very much for what you are doing for our troops. My daughter was there on 2/01/05, she is the CDR of the ... She was amazed at all the things you did for them, especially the cell phones that meant more to them than anything. If you can use anymore cell phones let me know. It is sure nice to see our returning soldiers are appreciated and not looked down upon like we were when I returned home some 33 years ago. Thanks again

I cannot express the gratitude I feel for what you do.  My husband deployed on 01/29, I thought it would be weeks before I heard from him, until you came along.  He called me on Sunday morning from Bangor, Maine.  I needed to hear from him and for that I thank you.

I just wanted to thank you all for what you are doing, it means a lot to all of us wives that are left behind when our husbands deploy. My husband's unit just left on the 30th of January and he is now in Kuwait. I just wanted to say thanks and good luck in all that you are doing and all that will be done in the future!

Thank you so much for doing this for my husband.  I was so touched that people cared enough to care for our loved ones as much as we do.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

You greeted my daughter today and gave her a cell phone - you just don't realize how much that means to us.  We would like to help your cause - so do you need any cell phones?

I just wanted to send a big Thank You to the greeters there in Maine.  My son called us from Kuwait last night and he told us about being greeted as his Army Battalion came through Bangor on his way to Iraq.  I could tell that he was very impressed and appreciative that Americans would get out of their warm beds so early in the morning to come tell them goodbye and wish them well.  I hope you'll still be there when he arrives back on American soil in '06! A great big Thanks from this Army Mom!!  May God richly bless each and every one of you. I'm looking forward to checking out the website for pictures taken on the 31st of Jan!

I live in Lisbon, ME, and am a retired soldier myself.  I just got off the phone with my daughter-in-law, in CA.  My son is passed through Bangor TODAY, Jan 31, on their way to Iraq.  L has told me of glowing reports about their reception in Bangor.  The soldiers were very impressed. Comments included "this was the friendliest place I have ever been!"  My son was impressed with the help offered him and his soldiers in attempting to reach families by phone. He was able to reach me, but, unfortunately, the flight left shortly before I arrived. I can recall the return of troops following Desert Storm... I was away, but my wife participated during many greetings Thank you all so much for continuing this outstanding and heart-warming tradition, and thank you all for doing it so well.  I look forward to my son's return... I hope he and his men return through Bangor. I think they do, too.     M.K. CPT, EN/AN, USAR, Retired.

Dear Greeters, Thank you for a wonderful job, I wish I lived closer to help you out! My son will be coming home in about 2 weeks for his R&R. I am not sure if he will pass your way or not. His name is M.H. if you see him give him an extra hug from his Momma before he gets to me!!

Thank you! It was great to see a picture of my boyfriend during his layover in Bangor. It's a great thing that you are doing!

Thank you all for the home coming on the 28th of Jan 2005; 1st Bn 8th Mar coming from Iraq.  It truly was a great sight to see appreciative and supportive Americans standing on the threshold of our country as we came home.  The phones were a great way for us to let our loved ones know we arrived safely and only had a few more hours left before re-unification.

My husband was one of the soldiers that passed through Maine on his way to Iraq last Sunday.  He told me about the Maine Troop Greeters he met at the airport.  I just want to tell you all thank you for doing this.  At a time when some soldiers worry that Americans do not support our troops, your work reassures soldiers that we love and support ALL of them.  Thank you for all of your beautiful work.  And, thank you for the pictures you post to your website.  We are eagerly awaiting the pictures you will post of the soldiers from the 3rd ID from Savannah, GA that passed through last Sunday.  Please pass my hugs and thanks to all of your dedicated volunteers. God Bless America & the Maine Troop Greeters....
I am originally from Maine, though now we are trapped in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  I remembered that you wonderful people greeted the soldiers.  My husband called me on the night of the 22nd of January.  He was surprised and delighted to have been made so welcome!  He was also thrilled to see the snow and feel the cold air, having been in El Paso for 2 weeks. Thank you again for being so nice to my soldier and please keep up the good work.  I'll be checking this site to see you all and to dream of being back in Maine!

I think that what you are doing is great.  My husband and his brother are/have been serving in Iraq for the past year.  My brother-in-law came through your airport yesterday and my husband should be through your facility some time in the next month.  It is nice to know that our guys have a warm smile when they get off the plane.

My son shipped out on Sunday, Jan 25, for his second deployment to Kuwait and Iraq.  He called us to say, "Good-bye" from Bangor, ME.  He was excited about how you folks greeted him there.  He said we should watch your web site for pictures, and we will do that. Thank you for all you do to show that America is proud of her troops.

I want to say thank you to all the great people at the BIA and to everyone who goes the extra mile for giving our troops a little extra special sendoff before they go over to Iraq. God Bless you all, God bless each and everyone of them and May God give our President the strength, wisdom and courage and ability to somehow bring our troops home as quickly as possible back to their loving families, who need them and want them home, may God end this war as soon as possible. May God Bless America!

Thanks so much for all that you do. Today 11/30/04 my only daughter and son-in-law flew from Ft Bragg to Maine ongoing to Iraq. Upon arrival in Maine she called me to say hello one last time before leaving overseas and I cannot tell you how that touched my heart. You give the gift of love and American pride that I am so much a part of. My whole family has been military even when it was not a popular thing to be, including my father, brothers, husband and now the third generation my children. So once again from the bottom of heart thank for caring. From someone who cares in Columbus, GA, home of Ft. Benning.

Thank you so much for the photos.  I can appreciate being "new" to emails and websites. However, if it weren't for the emails my son sent while on deployment the first time I think I would have gone out of my mind especially after reports that "a soldier" from his unit had been injured or killed. He had a three-day lockdown but at least at the end of the three days, I could turn on my computer and receive a note that it wasn't him and that he was okay. A long 3 days for sure, but it sure made my computer a lot more dearer to my heart and to think I only purchased it for the grandkids!!! My family enjoyed meeting all of you and once again we cannot thank you enough for what you are doing. God bless you all. And thank you for keeping our family in your prayers.

Thank you, thank you, thank you! My husband is in the air coming home right now.  He has been gone for over 13 months. I was curious, so I got on the Internet, and found your group. I cannot tell you how much it means to me that D. and his group will be greeted as they return to our great country. You are doing a wonderful service to the tired soldiers returning home. If you see someone with the last name, "P.S. give him a big hug from his wife, S.  (I'll save the kisses for later!) You are all great Americans, and I say thank you for caring.

Thank you & your group for making coming home so special for our armed forces.  Your efforts are very much appreciated. My daughter's fiancé is part of the U.S. Forces in Iraq.  We pray for everyone's safe return & remember those who gave their lives for all of us.  God Bless you & your group. 

To all the greeters at Bangor, thank you for your hospitality, and for sending my wife B. a little message. I look forward to the day I see all of you again. God bless you; what you do is a real morale booster. You are all wonderful people, and you define true patriotism.

Hello! My name is J.K.. My husband recently flew to Kuwait and had stopped in Bangor, Maine on New Year's Eve during the flight over. I just wanted to tell you how much he and his comrades appreciated what you do for them. I want to thank you for supporting them and it means a lot to all of us still at home that there are people out there such as yourselves that appreciate and support all of the sacrifices that the men and all of us families back home make. Keep on doing what you're doing and may God bless you all! For you are the true spirit that we all need!

Keep up the great work.  Thank you, from all of us who can't be there to do the fantastic job that you are doing.  You are great sources of morale for our soldiers, I am sure.  It is greatly appreciated by the soldiers and by those who love and support them.  Thanks again.

My brother D. is with the 224th ENG BTN from Iowa. When he arrived in Maine he said "It was the coolest thing he had ever seen" We, (USA) appreciate the time that all of the Maine Troop Greeters have spent on making our Troops deployment more heart felt. Thanks again for everything!

As a former soldier, I'm very proud to hear that you as a group are there for our troops. I pray for them daily, and wish them all a safe return. God bless you, for everything you do for our troops. God bless America.

My 21 year old son, J., a member of the 224th Engineering Battalion headquartered in Fairfield, Iowa, recently passed through the airport in Bangor en route to Kuwait (December 31, 2004)(See "December Meeting the Troops in Bangor", #3).  When their commander told the families in a newsletter about the wonderful reception and treatment these soldiers received from your organization, it made me cry.  It is a wonderful thing you are doing for these men and women. This is a very difficult time not only for the men and women of our military, but also for their families.  To see them treated like the heroes that they are by total strangers is awesome! Keep up the wonderful work you are doing. Not only do the troops appreciate what you are doing, the parents do also!!

I wish to say thank you for doing what your doing. My wife went through there on December 31st with 224th engineers from Iowa. She was able to call me from there. She said everything there was great and she really appreciated the phone and snacks. Once again thank you and keep up the good work you guys do. Your work is outstanding.  God Bless all of you. 

I came back from Vietnam in March 1972 and it wasn't very pleasant, as you know.  Some guy tried to pick a fight with me at the San Francisco Airport because I was in my uniform. Anyway, you're the best.  God Bless America and the Maine Troop Greeters. P.S. By the way, my dad went through Bangor, Maine during World War II. He was a Navigator on a B17 going to England.

Greetings from Iowa! As parents of two sons (twins) who passed thru your airport on December 31, 2004, we want to send our heartfelt THANK YOU for what you did for our sons and their military buddies.  I was on the phone w/one of our sons when the cheering started and we both got choked up.  He later sent an email to family and friends and said how awesome it was to be welcomed in such a way.  Thank you for your selfless efforts and for making these men and women feel like heroes.  You are all awesome people and from this mother's heart, I sincerely thank you.  May God Bless each of you.

My husband recently flew to Kuwait and had stopped in Bangor, Maine on New Year's Eve during the flight over. I just wanted to tell you how much he and his comrades appreciated what you do for them. I want to thank you for supporting them and it means a lot to all of us still at home that there are people out there such as yourselves that appreciate and support all of the sacrifices that the men and all of us families back home make. Keep on doing what you're doing and may God bless you all! For you are the true spirit that we all need!

Dear Greeters, Thank you for a wonderful job, I wish I lived closer to help you out! My son will be coming home in about 2 weeks for his R&R I am not sure if he will pass your way or not. His name is ... if you see him give him an extra hug from his Momma before he gets to me!! Thank you! It was great to see a picture of my boyfriend during his layover in Bangor. It's a great thing that you are doing!

To the special men and women of the Maine Troop Greeters: My husband was one of the soldiers that passed through Maine on his way to Iraq last Sunday.  He told me about the Maine Troop Greeters he met at the airport.  I just want to tell you all thank you for doing this.  At a time when some soldiers worry that Americans do not support our troops, your work reassures soldiers that we love and support ALL of them.  Thank you for all of your beautiful work.  And, thank you for the pictures you post to your website.  We are eagerly awaiting the pictures you will post of the soldiers from the 3rd ID from Savannah, GA that passed through last Sunday.  Please pass my hugs and thanks to all of your dedicated volunteers. God Bless America & the Maine Troop Greeters....

Hi -- My daughter called us from your airport while she was there and told us about the fantastic blessing you are to our troops and that she thought she might be in one of your pictures. I have been checking the wrong thing on your website, and now realize that I might have missed the pictures from November 15 -- the group deploying from Fort Bragg, NC. Is there any way to see these? Thanks so much for your help, and for all the good work that you are doing for our troops and our country.

Thank you so much for looking after my husband.  You have warmed my heart on this cold New Year.
My son left home two days after Christmas it was wonderful to see him after his two months of training but it was the hardest goodbye we have ever had to say. When Dec. 31 arrived we hade a very empty feeling in our hearts that my wife and I didn't think would ever leave us. Our son who had graduated from college six months ago was about to go to war. He had told us that it would be a month or more before he would be able to call or email us and we were bracing ourselves for that long of a wait. Then the phone rang and it was our son! I cannot tell you what that couple of minutes did for us and the hope that it gave us. There is a special place in Heaven for all of you, and Thank You for the gift you gave us. GOD Bless You!

It was an honor to witness the greetings you gave our troops as they left the airplane this morning. My brother was one of those soldiers. It meant a lot to him and the world to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Thank you for the kindness shown my son and his buddies from the Iowa National Guard.  He was able to make a call to us.  He said a man walked up to him and handed him a cell phone.  He would have come through on New Years Eve, on his way to Kuwait.  Thank you for the kindness shown him and his buddies, during what had been a long confinement in the airplane. Thank you again.

I just want to thank you for what you are doing. My husband left through Maine on December 31st and I know that he was having a really hard time with leaving so it really means a lot to both of us. It is an honor to be an American when there are people like you helping like you are.   Thank you so much. 

As a retired member of the 224 Engr Bn I want to thank this organization for their commitment to all of the soldiers that have passed thru this airport. What a wonderful thing you are doing. A GREAT BIG THANK YOU.

I want to thank all of you for giving the 224th Engineers such a warm welcome.  My husband was one of those soldiers, and I am very proud of him.  I could not believe it when he called me on New Years Eve; I was so excited to hear from him.  It really made my day and also made bringing in the New Year a little easier.  This is all because of you and my children and I want to thank you all very much.  God bless you all and keep our soldiers in your prayers.

Thank you for your caring and sharing with our troops.  Our son is part of the 224th Engineering Battalion National Guard from Iowa that passed through your area on Dec 31st.  For him and all the families and soldiers of the 224th Engineers, Thank YOU!!!

Just a quick note to express my appreciation for your kindness that your organization showed to my brother. He is with the 224th; they passed through on their way to Iraq on the 31st.Thank you.

Your group greeted my son on Dec. 31, 2004.  He is with the 224th Engineer Bn (Iowa) deploying to Iraq.  I want to thank you for caring and being there for them as they left their country. 

I sent my children's father to the Gulf War and now my is much more difficult sending my son. He is a single father raising his 9 yr. old son on his own. I truly hope the 224th and all of our troops return home soon and you can once again greet them.  Thank you so very much!!!

Thank you so much for seeing off the 224th Engineering Battalion on New Years Eve! My brother and nephew were in that group. L mentioned you in an email from Kuwait. He really appreciated your time and effort on that holiday evening.

A relative (native son and vet) who summers in Maine speaks so highly of your group.  In fact when in ME they also meet to greet. Do you know of any Greeters in the Savannah, GA area?  With the military presence here, one would expect that, but I have never heard it mentioned. If not, how did you get organized? Thanks for what you all do now as well as Thanks for those who served. 

Thank you so much for what you are doing.  I was just given a link to your site. My son is in the Air Force and stationed in TX, we live in WA. I have never been able to witness any of his homecomings and have felt badly about that.  It is comforting to know that others  "YOU" are greeting him for me. Thank you so much.  We do what we can here on the west coast to support our troops through rallies, parades and pack outs (sending care packages) etc. When J returns in the spring, I know he will have a warm welcome back home.  Thank you!  A proud military mom

Thanks for your warm and generous support of America's young men and women.  God bless you.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the extremely warm welcome after returning from Iraq at the end of October. It was more appreciated than you know. To all of the Vet's welcoming us home, if it wasn't for people like you, I wouldn't have a job and the world would be in disarray and we'd probably be speaking another language. I totally respect you and you spouses. May God bless and be with you. If any of you ever need anything-just call. This active duty soldier will be there for you in time of need! Whatever it may be!

Troop Greeters of Maine, thank you. I can't thank you enough for all the smiles, hugs and handshakes that we got upon our arrival. People like you make me very proud to be an American. Thank you. My husband flew into Maine yesterday and he was so glad to see ya'll there. Thank you so much for welcoming him home. It really meant a lot to him. Thanks so much for all that ya'll do and have done for this country. May GOD bless you all.

Dear Troop Greeters of Maine, I'd like to thank you again for the gracious reception you gave us on the 31st of October on our return trip from the Middle East.  Everyone in my troop was glad for the welcome.  Please accept this photo as a small token of our appreciation.

I want to say thank you to all the great people at the BIA and to everyone who goes the extra mile for giving our troops a little extra special sendoff before they go over to Iraq. God Bless you all, God bless each and everyone of them and May God give our President the strength, wisdom and courage and ability to somehow bring our troops home as quickly as possible back to their loving families, who need them and want them home, may God end this war as soon as possible. May God Bless America!
Just a very quick word or thanks for all you are doing to support our troops!!!   

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
The following is an unedited manuscript submitted to "Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience."

3 A.m. With the VFW


After months of extending our stay in Iraq, our unit was finally going home. The year had felt long enough. We had missed birthdays, births, anniversaries, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and when our final plane was hit by a de-icing truck in Germany, we were left feeling as though we’d never get back to our families.

We were ordered to de-plane in order to wait for the next flight. Sitting in the airport throughout the night, we called our families with the bad news. We waited for what seemed like an eternity before finally catching another plane.

Thirty-six hours after our scheduled arrival, we landed in Bangor, Maine. It was 3 a.m. We were tired, hungry, and as desperate as we were to get to Colorado, our excitement was tainted with bitterness. While we were originally told our National Guard deployment would be mere months, here we were 369 days later frustrated and angry.

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.

Sgt. Michael Thomas
220th Military Police Co.
Colorado Springs, CO

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
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