Monthly Archives: April 2014

WMS SMILES Club Joins Pease Greeters

Windham Middle School SMILES Club students joined the Pease Greeters on April 22nd. The festive event welcomed United States Marine Corps soldiers returning from Afghanistan. This was the first time the soldiers have been on American soil since last fall. Notable attendees included Miss New Hampshire, Miss New Hampshire Teen and Patriots representatives including their mascot, 2 cheerleaders, former players Jon Williams and Vernon Crawford and former broadcaster Gino Cappelletti.

American troops exited the aircraft transporting them to the United States from Afghanistan via Iceland were met at the gate by hundreds of cheering Greeters and well-wishers. The Greeters, from toddlers to decorated World War II veterans, met the troops with hugs, handshakes and smiles, while animal Greeters gave face licks and tail wags. Each of the troops made their way into the terminal via the “Heroes Walk”, part of the military museum housed at the airport in conjunction with the Pease Development Authority, the only such installment at a commercial airport in the country.

Once inside the terminal, the Greeters provided the troops with food, beverages, gifts, stuffed animals, camaraderie and companionship, all donated by local companies, private donors and the Greeters themselves. There is a permanent communications center and the troops are given cell phones to call anyone in the world free of charge.

Prior to departure the troops stopped at the U.S. Customs area for a brief ceremony, as they do prior to every flight. The veterans raised the flag and Miss New Hampshire sang the National Anthem; Everyone said the Pledge of Allegiance; A prayer was given thanking the troops and their families for their sacrifices. A star cut from a retired American flag was given to each troop.

The Pease Greeters is an all volunteer group of veterans and civilians dedicated to showing their appreciation for troops from all nations and military branches.

They meet every troop flight, whether 2 A.M. on a Monday morning or 5 P.M. on a Saturday afternoon. New Greeters are always warmly welcomed. If you would like to donate or participate, please visit their website at www.peasegreeters.org

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