Service members welcomed home from deployment

  • Published
  • By Mark Wyatt
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – The base community gathered here to welcome approximately 30 of the nearly 50 service members who have returned home from deployment in the past year during a Hanscom Heroes Homecoming celebration July 19.

The annual homecoming event included a private medallion ceremony at the base conference center followed by a parade through the installation. The event included static displays and family activities around the chapel gazebo after the parade.

On base to participate in the welcome-home ceremony was Secretary of Veterans' Services for Massachusetts Francisco A. Urena, who took time to thank deployers and their family members during his remarks at the conference center.

“To all the returning service members, thank you for your service. Thank you for your commitment. And congratulations on a successful deployment,” he said. “To the many family members who are here, it is a great sight to see this type of event being shared with friends and families.”

Also attending the ceremony were representatives from the offices of U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, U.S. Reps. Niki Tsongas and Katherine Clark, as well as selectmen and other officials from neighboring towns.

Retired U.S. Navy Capt. Tom Kelley, a 1971 Medal of Honor recipient for actions in Vietnam, participated in the ceremony.

“It is one of the highlights of my life to be amongst men and women in uniform, especially those who are just coming back from deployment,” he said. “I really applaud Hanscom Air Force Base for having this event every year to recognize the service of those coming home.”

Staff Sgt. Justin Ricketts, a member of the 66th Security Forces Squadron, who returned from deployment earlier this year, discussed how much it meant to him.

"Like Capt. Kelley said during his remarks, when they came home from Vietnam, they didn’t have this opportunity,” he said. “It feels good that the community cares about our service.”

Also recognized during the event was Tech. Sgt. Thomas Rentschler, a C3I and Networks Directorate computer security manager.

“This is a fantastic event,” he said. “I think a lot of other places, a lot of other services, don’t recognize deployers and have a celebration like they do at Hanscom Air Force Base. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

As part of the medallion ceremony, Col. Roman Hund, installation commander, Chief Master Sgt. Michael Daly, serving as the base’s senior enlisted member, as well as Kelley, individually recognized the deployers and their families.

Hund thanked members of the state and local community for attending.

"I would like to thank you all for attending today to honor these folks that served our country, not just here at Hanscom, but across the world over the last year," he said. “At any given time throughout the year, we have Airmen forward deployed to different parts of the world. It means a lot to them to see what the Massachusetts area and New England community provides for support to them.”

Following the medallion ceremony, honorees and their families participated in the parade along with vintage vehicles, members of the Massachusetts Mounted State Police, base fire trucks, duck boats and more.