BANGOR, Maine — Security force members of the Bangor-based 101st Air Refueling Wing — the MAINEiacs — have returned home safe after a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf, Maj. Michael Steinbuchel, spokesman for the Maine National Guard, said Monday.
The last of the 38 citizen airmen sent to Al Udeid Air Force Base in Doha, Qatar, arrived back in Bangor at about 8 a.m. Monday.
“They’ve all come back in the last few days,” Steinbuchel said.
A grandmother of one of the airmen, who called from Kentucky but didn’t want to leave her name, contacted the Bangor Daily News to ask why news of her grandson’s unit returning to Maine was not splashed all over the newspaper.
“It’s a tremendous thing that they go,” she said. “I wanted to find out why.”
Steinbuchel explained that smaller units, especially those that come back in small groups of two or three like the 101st, are not given a big public welcome because of the sporadic timing of their arrivals.
“They came back in phases,” the major said.
The news that Maine military personnel returned stateside without a hometown greeting from the Maine Troop Greeters upset chairman Charlie Knowlen. He said the troop greeters were not contacted to welcome the local airmen and women back to Bangor.
“We didn’t know they were coming,” Knowlen said.
Knowlen added that he understands why the greeters were not called, especially given the unscheduled arrival times, but said he still wished the greeters could have been at the airport to welcome the local heroes home.
The Kentucky grandmother said she was extremely happy that her grandson is home safe.
“When I close my eyes, he’s not 23 — he’s 3,” she said, adding that she missed him more than words can say.