On May 3 at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, 193 troops from all branches of the military, stepped off of the airplane to find Secretary of Defense Robert Gates waiting for them to shake their hands. He had joined the regular greeters and the families at this homecoming for their two week leave.
Gates took his place alongside the flag-waving, banner-carrying, chanting revelers gathered at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport's International Arrivals Terminal to meet the troops as their flight arrived from Kuwait. He shook hands with every arriving servicemember and thanked them for their service.
The greeters are part of the 'Welcome Home a Hero' initiative designed to let the troops know that there are those of us out there who care.
"We want them to arrive home and know that somebody cares," said Gary Raines, a Vietnam veteran who's a regular at the homecomings. "Nobody welcomed us home, and we never want that to happen again."
"I can't think of anything more worthwhile than letting these people know that we support them," agreed Wayne Trevathan, an Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War.
Raines, Trevathan and other members of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 90, based in nearby Denton, had plenty of company here today.
The Dallas Tap Dazzlers, a senior ladies dance group, arrived in tap shoes, fishnet stockings and sparkly red, white and blue jackets emblazoned with a Lone Star to perform for the group.
Welcome Home! Thank You!!