Stories of Interest
Pease Greeters applauded by military brass, politicians
PORTSMOUTH — Edmund Johnson and Charles Cove, co-founders of The Pease Greeters, received a standing ovation from a crowd that included members of the U.S. House and Senate, after accepting the Distinguished Service award from the Military Officers Association of America Tuesday night in Washington, D.C.
"We were able to tell the audience that we regard ourselves as America's surrogate family," Johnson said Wednesday morning. "What we do is an honor and a privilege."
The award, presented by MOAA chairman of the board and retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Richard I. Neal, honors individuals and organizations that have been consistent supporters of the uniformed services.
Dressed in bright red Marine Corps regalia, Johnson and Cove accepted the award on behalf of the more than 2,500 volunteers involved in the group's mission.
Since 2005, The Pease Greeters have been welcoming and sending off military personnel passing through the Portsmouth International Airport at Pease, who are either on their way home or heading overseas.
"If it weren't for the greeters, the troops could be met with an empty airport. But because of us, they're met with friends, coffee and doughnuts and 18 land lines to call home," Johnson said. "They deserve the royal treatment."
Johnson received a silver star after serving as a Marine Corps officer in Korea. Cove, a member of MOAA and a Vietnam veteran, served in the Army and the Marine Corps.
"Our group makes sure that the disgraceful behavior shown to Vietnam vets will never happen again," said Cove.
The greeters, who have welcomed an estimated 350 flights and 55,000 soldiers, haven't missed a flight since the volunteer effort began. In addition to assembling on-call at the airport, the group also mails care packages and organizes efforts to support veterans, members of the armed forces and their families.
Both men said receiving the award was a very special occasion. Former recipients include Colin Powell and Sears, Roebuck and Co.
"As long as we're alive, we'll be honoring our veterans," Johnson said.
Herald story used