PORTSMOUTH — Exeter resident John Porazinski remembers the Vietnam veterans who waited with him before his deployment flight from New Jersey to Iraq in 2006.
When Porazinski returned home from Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007, the same veterans who sent him off were there waiting for him. Those veterans resonate with him.
Porazinski served for 21 years in the Massachusetts Army National Guard. Now, he is a senior engineer at Eversource and a Pease Greeter.
“I heard about this five or six years ago, and I was like, ‘I got to go and check this out,’” Porazinski said Wednesday morning.
Pease Greeters welcome troops passing through Portsmouth International Airport on their way to or from Afghanistan, Iraq and other areas of conflict. The greeters have fed, honored and thanked more than 310,000 troops for their service.
“We send them off or welcome them home in an honorable fashion,” Porazinski said.
Porazinski said when troops are leaving for their deployment, “They’re looking to talk to people. They’re going into harm’s way over there.”
When they return, “Everybody’s excited and they can’t thank you enough.”
Porazinski is also a member of the Eversource Veterans Business Resource Group. He recently presented contributions from that organization to the Pease Greeters; to Liberty House, a Manchester nonprofit that provides substance-free transitional housing for homeless veterans; to the Fence Force Flagline, a Portsmouth nonprofit organization that supports veterans with patriotic displays; and to the Dan Healy Foundation, established in honor of Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel R. Healy.
Healy was a U.S. Navy Seal and Exeter native who was killed while providing support for a team of four SEALs who were fighting the Taliban. The foundation provides support to local students entering the military or trade schools, veterans, single mothers and elementary school children.
Porazinski said his secret to surviving in the military was to stay busy to make the time pass quicker. He likes to remain connected today.
“I’m one of those guys who likes to stay involved,” Porazinski said.
For more information on the Pease Greeters, visit www.peasegreeters.org.