By Capt. Gregory Long, 40th BEB, 2nd BCT, 1st AD:
(El Paso, Texas, Dec. 14, 2017)
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is best known for its shipbuilding roots and picturesque downtown filled with stately Federalist and Georgian 18th century architecture. Situated just miles from the Atlantic Ocean, this coastal city of approximately 21,000 residents is also home to Pease International Airport and a nonprofit organization known as the Pease Greeters.
This airport is a small facility the military uses as a logistics hub to refit planes filled with deploying Soldiers, and the Pease Greeters, made up of patriotic veterans and supporters, hasn’t missed a military flight out of the airport since its founding in 2005.
As Soldiers assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, “Iron Brigade,” 1st Armored Division, deployed in support of Operation Spartan Shield in late October, the Pease Greeters were there to deliver food and ceremony to many outbound Soldiers.
As the Soldiers passed through the terminal on my particular flight, patriotic veterans from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Global War on Terror reminded us that a thankful nation is proud of its sons and daughters for the sacrifices they make. The volunteers ensured Soldiers were fed, were able to call home and even had coffee and dessert waiting. After an hour layover, we began to board our plane to continue our movement to the Middle East. Prior to boarding, however, the Pease Greeters took dozens of photos of the deploying troops, sang the national anthem and reminded us that “the old warriors thank the young warriors” on behalf of a grateful nation.
After a wonderful send-off by the Pease Greeters of Portsmouth and a 24-hour flight, the Iron Brigade assumed its mission in support of Operation Spartan Shield. Units within the brigade are at several key nodes in Kuwait as well as other countries conducting numerous advising, assisting and partnership operations. Additionally, brigade and battalion staff members are planning joint and inter-governmental partnership training exercises for the upcoming quarter in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
Those Soldiers guarding facilities, training for missions and out conducting operations prevalently wear the Old Ironsides patch. The brigade’s deployment will with no doubt continue on as an overwhelming success, thanks to countless hours of training at Fort Bliss and the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. Besides, we have a fine organization on our side and rooting for us: the Pease Greeters.
If a family member of a 2nd BCT Soldier wishes to download photos of their deployed loved one from Pease International Airport and its Pease Greeters, the organization archives photos and videos at www.peasegreeters.org. The website also describes the history of the organization and details all of the thoughtful traditions they conduct for each military flight.