At 0300, the 747 landed on American soil 15 hours after leaving Kuwait. As it turned onto the taxiway, a hatch was opened in the cockpit, and an American flag was raised with a spotlight shining on it.
A large crowd was there to welcome home the servicemen and servicewomen, with cheers and homemade signs. There would be a two-hour break before the soldiers continued on to their home base. The townspeople didn’t know any of soldiers personally, but they were our troops. The people of Bangor, Maine, welcomed every flight that came home from Desert Storm.
There were no reporters or photographers.
As the stairs were put into position, a tall man came to the bottom of the steps. As the men and women got off, he saluted and shook their hands. I was a flight attendant looking at a scene I had witnessed many times. I noticed a soldier still in his seat. I told him he had to get off. The last one off the plane was that sleepy young man.
I watched as the tall man saluted and then shook the soldier’s hand. Talking together, they walked to the terminal. The tall man with the weight of a nation on his shoulders and the young man in fatigues who would have quite the story to tell to his family on the morrow. Of how in the middle of the night on the tarmac in Bangor, he met the president of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush.