BANGOR – Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Poole, 45, has been deployed 18 times during his Air Force career. For at least 10 of his trips, whether departure or arrival, he traveled through Bangor International Airport.
And ever since his first tour in 1991, the Maine Troop Greeters have lined up to welcome him to the state and thank him for his service.
“Every time I come through here I get amped up, ready to go do my job,” he said.
On Wednesday night, the airmen of the 2nd Airlift Squadron out of Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina honored the greeters by presenting them with a blanket as a way to thank them for their heartfelt welcomes over the years.
The 243 airmen filed through the receiving line of greeters, who offered words of encouragement and thanks, before the greeters themselves became the honored.
The blanket featured the unit’s insignia in the center, and in each corner there were scenes of the air force base and the local community. On either side of the insignia it said “The Deuce, Second to None.”
“I hope you guys can find a little space in there to put this [blanket], because we sure have a lot of space for you guys in our hearts for being out here,” Lt. Col. Walter Ward said, pointing to the troop greeters’ room in the domestic terminal of BIA.
Bangor was the squadron’s last stop before flying overseas to begin a 120-day deployment. This deployment is a first for Capt. Felicia Rodda, 29, of Brazoria, Texas. She said the troop greeters’ presence at the airport was “a nice surprise.”
“My first thought was that these people are out here on their spare time, and most of them were probably like me a few years back,” Rodda said.
Approximately 30 troop greeters were present for the ceremony, and while many said they were humbled by the squadron’s gift, they wanted the troops to remain the center of attention.
“It’s a two-way road,” greeter Joe Cushing, a Korean War veteran of the Navy, said. “We appreciate what they are doing with their service, and they really appreciate what we do to support them.”