Military.com has an outstanding video of troops returning from a tour of duty. The video shows the troops walking down the jet-way after disembarking their plane and the people waiting at the gate burst into a heartfelt ovation. This of course brought back fond memories of my unit returning from Desert Storm.
We were the only unit from our post that deployed to the Middle East when Saddam rolled into Kuwait. On the way to Saudi Arabia we warranted our own 747 to get us in country as soon as possible. Conversely, after the war, since we were a unit of about 120 soldiers, there was no real hurry to send us home. We finally ended up hitching a ride with another unit the Saturday before Mother’s Day.
We landed in Bangor, Maine of all places before heading to Barksdale Air Force Base to board a bus for Fort Polk. To be honest, I had never heard of Bangor but it is the home town of renowned author Stephen King. Mr. King wanted to ensure that the soldiers returning from Desert Storm received the hero’s welcome they deserved rather than the disgraceful treatment our predecessors returning from Viet Nam endured.
The reception that Mr. King put on was amazing. I was one of the first soldiers off the plane and was immediately swamped by the friendly citizens of Bangor. Kids were asking for autographs, girls were coming up and hugging us, and of course we were able to imbibe our first cold malted beverage (beer) in quite some time.
The sense of pride that a reception like that instilled really cannot be put into words, at least by a novice like me, perhaps Mr. King could but the appropriate words fail me. To add to the shock, my family was waiting for me when we arrived at Fort Polk. My mom always tells me that was the best Mother’s Day ever.
It has been nearly twenty years since that fateful day and I would like to extend my everlasting gratitude to Mr. King and the residents of Bangor. You are all amazing Americans and I am proud to have served such wonderful people.
Now that we have been at war for over a decade, I know some people take the sacrifices that our brave men and women in uniform make for us on a daily basis. So when you see one of them the next time your out and about, please thank them for their service, I assure you it will make their day (and yours).