MILO, Maine — Having their paths cross in Iraq for four hours one Sunday earlier this fall gave four servicemen from the Penquis area time to catch up on one another’s lives and families.
Maj. Robert Kinney, formerly of Atkinson; Tech. Sgt. Scott Coy, of Dover-Foxcroft; Tech. Sgt. Joseph Baker, of LaGrange; and Master Sgt. Douglas Robinson, of Orneville Township, found it comforting to see familiar faces so far away from home.
“I certainly was thrilled,” Kinney said in an e-mail this week. “Deployments are dangerous, they are lonely being so far from home, and can be mundane at times, therefore, it was wonderful to see some familiar faces from back home. I certainly will not forget it.”
Kinney, now an intelligence officer with the Massachusetts Air National Guard, said in the four “short” hours together, the foursome talked about their families, their friends and their jobs back home, as well as the war and Maine’s economy.
There was a round of chuckles about the fact that Coy’s house on Mayo Street once was owned by Aaron Kinney, Kinney’s relative. Coy noted that while renovating his house, he found Kinney “artifacts” in the walls and in the yard buried behind the house, according to Kinney.
While Kinney said he met Robinson for the first time that Sunday morning in Iraq, the pair knew a lot of the same people, Kinney’s dad being one of them. In fact, Coy, Baker and Robinson all had served with Kinney’s father, now retired Master Sgt. David Kinney of Atkinson, in the 101st Air Refueling Wing of the Maine Air National Guard.
A former member of the 101st ARW, Kinney said he has always kept tabs on what the Maineiacs of Bangor were up to, so he was aware the 101st Civil Engineering Squadron, part of the 101st ARW, had deployed.
“Because I knew these guys and hadn’t seen them for years, I made up my mind before leaving for overseas that if I was even remotely in the same area of Iraq, I would find them,” Kinney wrote.
When Kinney arrived in Qatar, he had figured out where the men were and knew they would be traveling in his area, so he contacted Coy by e-mail to set up a time when they could meet. Kinney, a 1989 graduate of Penquis Valley High School in Milo, and Coy, a 1988 graduate of Foxcroft Academy, knew each other from attending the same Dover-Foxcroft church.
Kinney said he and Baker, a Penquis graduate, were classmates at the University of Maine. Kinney is now full time with the Massachusetts Air National Guard attached to the Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts. The other three men are part-time Maine Air National Guard members who have full-time civilian jobs. Coy works at Hardwood Products Co. in Guilford, Robinson is Charleston’s postmaster, and Baker is employed at Charleston Correctional Facility. Their employers have been extremely supportive, according to Kinney.
In fact, Kinney said the support of the American public has been phenomenal. “It is humbling to be thanked so regularly for my service,” he said. “Having been stationed in different parts of the country and having traveled the world, I’m most proud when service members single out the receptions they get when they pass through Bangor. Those visits go on to this day and are a shining example of the support the people of Maine continue to give to our military.”