Pease Greeters continue to gather for troops in transit
Emily Stillberger, 9, and her great-grandfather Ken Goodwin, both of North Berwick, Maine, salute the troops at Portsmouth International Airport at Pease as members of the U.S. Air Force 16th Air Lift Squadron prepare to deploy to Qatar Friday morning. (JOHN QUINN/Union Leader Correspondent)
Senior Airman Michael Denk, who is deploying for a third time, was impressed by the turnout and the generosity of the people from around the area.
Lt. Col. Terry Tyree said the experience was "an absolute pleasure."
"We'll be gone for a while, but we hope to come back here," Tyree said.
As before, the Pease Greeters took a photo of the unit to line the "hall of heroes" in the terminal, presented a signed sweatshirt to the unit's commander — who also received a commemorative buoy and a "challenge coin" — and provided phone cards to help the troops make calls from overseas.
Since then, Cove said the group expanded to 4,200 volunteers from around the region and they have met more than 200,000 members of the U.S. Armed Forces as they deploy overseas or return home through Portsmouth International Airport at Pease.
Among those attending was Edmund E. Johnson Jr., 84, of Rye Beach, founder of the Pease Greeters, who died last week. Johnson had remained active in the group since its founding.
Her daughter, Joan Gough, also of Stratham, said she wants to make sure members of the military know people support them and their efforts are appreciated.
As many of the Pease Greeters are veterans or family members of those who served since World War II, Cove said the group meets military units from around the country who pass through Pease.
For more information, go to www.peasegreeters.org.
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