The Marines greatly appreciated all the efforts put forth by the AFSC, MAC, USCBP, TSA, Guest Supply and Pearson’s Candy. There were sighs of relief for the treats in the MN Twins bags, as well as, the Girl Scout Cookies, hot dogs, cup cakes and toiletries. Not to mention, the opportunity to shave and smoke! The best compliment we received was from a young Marine who said … “this is a very humbling experience to see that so many Americans care.”
A special thanks goes to the following people that joined us to meet-n-greet the flight; MAC personnel, TSA personnel, Airport Police, Jeanne Morford, Patti Carr, Dean & Marilyn Greethurst, Georgeann Ozbolt, Ted Hoeben, Jeanette Roedler, George Lewis, Bob Nelson, John Schleck, Karen Johnson, Len Zabilla, Tom Dooley, Steve Moore, Susan Rasmussen, and Char Rholik. As well as, the volunteers that kindly offered to stuff bags; Barb Dell, George Patton, Virgil Eckstrom, Fred Crawford, Karen Hodge, Dorothea Johns, Jerry Connolly, Merlin Shank, Annie Olson, and Janis Eastman.
After 48 hours of travel, seventeen Minnesota National Guardsmen on leave from Iraq arrived at MSP at 11:20 p.m. on July fourth. In the spirit of Independence Day, four “dedicated” AFSC volunteers joined the director to make sure the guardsmen were greeted with applause and patriotic gift bags filled with Minnesota treats. Unfortunately, seven guardsmen (from Duluth, St. Cloud, Bemidji, Watertown, Bismarck, Fargo and Helena) missed their connecting flight. But even in their disappointing situation, they were grateful to the AFSC for a place to shower and sleep.
Several local television news outlets eagerly awaited the guard’s arrival. However, bad weather in Dallas delayed their and many other flights, which was well past the 10 p.m. news deadline. A special thanks goes out to Teri & Elizabeth Wold, Dean & Marilyn Greethurst, American Airlines, the TSA and the Airport Police for the assistance in making sure 17 National Guardsmen received a warm Minnesota welcome home.
Father’s Day was made extra special for some soldiers arriving home via MSP. Thanks to the tireless efforts of a helpful friend with American Airlines, Debra Cain of the Armed Forces Service Center was informed that there were 18 soldiers coming home on leave from Iraq on Father’s Day. After making a few calls for volunteers, the volunteer group (Janis Eastman, Teri Wold and Debra) managed to arrive at the gate in advance of their arrival.
As the soldiers exited the plane, the passengers at the surrounding gates began to applaud. Service Center volunteers pulled four soldiers aside, knowing they had connecting NWA flights at 9:30pm. “When we approached the NWA ticket area, the agent directed us to go to the first class counter,” Debra explained. “As we waited we noticed there was a gentleman standing at the first class counter. When the agent called for the next passenger, off we went.”
“Just as I was began to tell the ticket agent that we were trying to get these soldiers on an earlier flight, the gentleman interrupted and asked, ‘First class?’ I said no, they’re flying coach. He replied, ‘I will pay to fly them first class!'”
Out of the four soldiers, the generous gentleman paid for three to fly home (to North Dakota and South Dakota) first class. He would have paid for all four, but the fourth soldier was connecting to an Airlink flight and first class was not available.
Not only were all four soldiers able to depart MSP by 6:00p.m., (well ahead of their original 9:30 p.m. departure) they all arrived home with a big smiles on their faces, and a memorable experience at MSP Airport (thanks to the AFSC)!
Brigadier General Charles Barr wrote a letter to the Armed Forces Service Center on May 5th, in gratitude for the warm hospitality he received while on a layover.
I want to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for the recent outstanding hospitality and kindness shown to me. During a layover en route home from Kuwait and Iraq on R&R leave, I stopped in at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Armed Forces Service Center. What a nice facility and gracious hosts there to greet me when I entered the door. In particular I extend my personal thanks to Otto Murray and Karen Hodge working in the lounge area. Also thanks to Debra Cain who was greeting and directing service personnel in the main lobby of the airport. Again thanks for everything. We love you all and thank you for your service, too.
Sincerely, BG Charles J. Barr
On Monday, twenty-nine volunteers with the Armed Forces Service Center (AFSC) welcomed 293 army reservists from North Carolina to the AFSC. The Girl Scout Council of Greater Minneapolis (Troops 1408, 2612 and 2614) also assisted by handing out boxes of cookies to arriving soldiers. After staging AFSC throughout the day, the soldiers boarded buses to Ft. McCoy The 108th Division will deploy to Iraq, after a brief stay in Wisconsin.
In addition to assisting the above group, the AFSC volunteers welcomed two combat wounded soldiers, escorted by TSA. We also greeted four soldiers coming home from Iraq for two weeks R&R, ten soldiers en route to Ft. Snelling for soldier readiness processing (SRP) and four young recruits bound for basic training.
A special thanks to Sprint, for sending enough cellular phones to accommodate the group. The soldiers greatly appreciated the opportunity to call home. A heartfelt “thank you” goes out to everyone that assisted in extending a ‘Minnesota Nice’ welcome and send off; the AFSC volunteers, Airport Director’s Office, MAC Landside office, Airport Police, Keys Cafe and the Girl Scouts Council of America.