Maine Troop Greeters, the very best of Maine

17 years ago

Early Aug. 25, our own Maine Troop Greeters warmly welcomed Spc. Tommitrea Minnifee of the 546th Area Support Medical Company as the 500,000th soldier they have greeted at Bangor International Airport (BIA). This half-million milestone was the culmination of four years of dedication and perseverance by Mainers who have traveled to the airport terminal day and night to meet America’s heroes traveling to and from Iraq since 2003.

The Maine Troop Greeters, who first began welcoming troops in 1991, started welcoming soldiers again in 2003 when troops started traveling through BIA to the Middle East.

The Maine Troop Greeters are a shining testament of the unfailing gratitude and admiration of Mainers for our military personnel year-round. Regardless of time or circumstance, they come from across our state to shake hands and cheer on soldiers entering the airport. They also provide these brave men and women with gift bags containing snacks, drinks, and donated cell phones that allow the soldiers to call loved ones. Cognizant that BIA is often the last stop in the United States for American soldiers and the first spot they return to when traveling to and from Iraq, greeters understand acutely that such daily displays of appreciation are critical to maintaining high spirits and morale among our troops.
The soldiers welcomed last Saturday were en route to Camp Anaconda in Balad, Iraq, when they were met by Maine Troop Greeters at the terminal. As of last Saturday, the Maine Troop greeters have met a total of 2,505 flights, 500,008 servicemen and women, and 58 service dogs – a litany of enormous accomplishments by the Maine Troop Greeters who have so diligently attended to troops traveling home and overseas. Governor John Baldacci even proclaimed the week of August 18-25 “Bangor Troop Greeter and Troop Appreciation Week” further illustrating how understandably proud our state is of these remarkable men and women.
Recently, the Maine Troop Greeters announced the formation of a new program to honor troops who deployed to the Middle East through Bangor, Maine but were unable to return with their unit through Bangor because they were wounded in action. The “I Owe Bangor, ME a Visit Program,” hosted by the American Legion Post 200 in Herman, sends each troop who visited BIA but was unable to return with the troops a welcome-back package. This expression of thankfulness is yet another exceptional example of how Maine Troop Greeters are paying tribute to our servicemen and women.
Every day, we must be mindful of the men and women who are defending our nation at home and around the world and guarding and protecting the freedoms we cherish. As a Mainer and an American, I cannot praise enough the Maine Troop Greeters who have so generously honored our troops who travel overseas to courageously serve our country. The Maine Troop Greeters represent the very best of Maine and our nation.
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