BANGOR – The Maine Troop Greeters Museum opened just one year ago. On Saturday, they welcomed visitors to Greeters Hall and celebrated the occasion.
In its long history, the Bangor International Airport has been a destination for many servicemen and women. The Maine Troop Greeters have helped welcome them home.
“We like to make them comfortable while they’re briefly here, so we offer them something to snack on, some toiletries and just some good old conversation,” said Maine Troop Greeters Chairperson Allison Hernandez.
It all started in 1991 when soldiers were returning home from Operation Desert Storm. Since then, volunteers have greeted over 1.5 million troops. In 2008 the group was incorporated as a nonprofit, and they’re now celebrating one year since theMaine Troop Greeters Museum opened.
“It’s a way to honor our veterans and honor those who served,” said Hernandez. “Everything that is in our museum has been donated by troops passing through the airport,” said Hernandez.
Over the years, the number of donations have grown.
“Challenge coins, patches, hats, trinkets, paracord bracelets, origami money, lots of different other items too,” said Hernandez.
Many veterans came to the event. Some, like George Bridgham, are members of the organization.The Vietnam veteran wants to make sure soldiers are greeted differently then he was.
“They called you names, they spit at you, they kicked you and I experienced it too and when I retired I said I’m going to do this because they’re going to get the handshake that I never got,” said Bridgham.
The Maine Troop Greeters are all volunteers and the group is funded by donations. to find out more about them you can visit mainetroopgreeters.com.