BANGOR, Maine — “Welcome home” took on a double meaning Friday for an Air Force command post controller assigned to the Maine Air National Guard Base in Bangor.
Not only did Kyle Eaton finally touch down at Bangor International Airport after his first overseas deployment, he also got his first look at the house he bought — sight unseen — during a six-month stint in an undisclosed location in southeast Asia.
Eaton, a 2007 Hermon High School graduate who turned 22 last month, bought the tidy white house at 65 Parker St. through the city of Bangor’s recently established Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
Though the program, which was funded through a $1,084,873 grant from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, the city is able to buy foreclosed or vacant homes which it rehabilitates and sells to income-eligible first-time home buyers, according to Rosie Bradley, assistant director of community development for the city of Bangor.
The Neighborhood Stabilization Program, a new program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, requires that participants incorporate green energy standards to make the homes more efficient and therefore affordable, Bradley noted.
The city so far has resold four homes, has another on the market and is overhauling a sixth, she said.
Though he was on the other side of the world, Eaton was able to surmount the hurdles to homeownership with the help of his father, to whom he granted power of attorney so that the real estate closing could take place.
When the airman’s flight arrived at BIA shortly after 2 p.m., more than 30 family members, friends and co-workers were there to meet him. His first hugs went to his mother, Amy, his father, Todd, and his grandmother and grandfather Guyla and Richard Eaton of Levant — in that order.
Also on hand was his 19-year-old brother Kevin, who he has invited to stay with him.
His mother cried tears of joy upon seeing her son. She said that while her husband, who holds a similar Air Force position at the Air Guard base in Bangor, has been deployed, having a child away from home for so long was difficult.
“It’s different when it’s one of your babies,” she said.
“We’re super-duper proud of him,” she later said. “He’s smart, very focused.” The fact he is a homeowner at the age of 22 “doesn’t surprise me at all,” she said.
An hour later, an open house was in full swing at 65 Parker, which was easy to find because of the red, white and blue balloons tied to the railing of the deck. There family, friends and colleagues mingled, ate and checked out Kyle’s new digs.
Originally painted in white, the rooms had been decorated and repainted by his mother, who said she hired some help for the task. His family also rounded up the furniture he had stowed away at several friends’ homes and set it up for him. His parents also bought him a washer and dryer.
Few if any details were overlooked — there even was a scented candle sitting on the sill of the window over his kitchen sink.
Besides the home-cooked food, there was something else at the open house that the airman missed while he was away — a couple of cases of Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale, a seasonal brew made in Maine that is available only during a brief window of time each fall.
Todd Eaton said he bought the beer for his son weeks ago because it tends to sell out quickly.
Parker Street’s newest resident had yet to meet his neighbors as of mid-Friday afternoon. His parents, however, said they include an Air Force retiree and a mystery neighbor who has been keeping their son’s lawn mowed.
Kyle said Friday that he’s glad to be home and blown away by his welcome.
“It’s entirely overwhelming. I was really not expecting anything that I saw here. The pictures were all of white walls and empty rooms. I walk in and everything’s done and decorated. My parents, my friends, my family did an amazing job on this house. It’s more than I could even ask for.”
Though he likely would have left the walls white — “I’m that kind of guy,” he said — there’s little he plans to change for now. But there is one exception.
“I think I’d like to make a little ‘man cave’ downstairs,” he said with a laugh.