One Flight At A Time

Pat is inspired by Ida Gondalez, featured in our homepage video today "A Mother's Journey To Light," to tell us the moving story of a local grassroots organization in her hometown of Portsmouth, New Hampshire that honors and acknowledges America's military men and women.

Serving America's Heroes, One Flight at a Time

Today’s video about Gold Star mother Ida Gonzalez, and the way she honors the memory of her beloved son Michael, is a poignant reminder of all the sacrifices made by our fellow Americans in the military and their families -- and how important it is to acknowledge them.

My hometown of Portsmouth, NH, is home to an exceptional grassroots organization that does so on a regular basis, having now met over 450 flights of soldiers heading to, or returning from, overseas areas of conflict.

The “Pease Greeters” – whose motto is “Serving America's Heroes, One Flight at a Time” -- converge upon the Portsmouth International Airport at the former Pease Air Force Base at all hours of the day and night, often with little notice, to act as “America's surrogate family” offering the troops a final goodbye on U.S. soil or a first welcome home when their chartered planes touch down to refuel or change crews.

The Greeters, whom I’ve seen number as few as 75 for a 1:30 a.m. flight in the middle of a snowstorm or as many as 400 on a balmy weekend day, never know beforehand which branch of the service is coming through the doors or where they’re headed. And the soldiers have no idea how many people are waiting to greet them. It’s not unusual to see a man or woman in uniform brush away a few tears when they find out.

As the solders enter the corridors packed with “Pease Greeters” cheering, clapping and reaching out to shake their hands, they may stop to enjoy long-denied simple pleasure of interacting with a baby. Or they may pat one of the dogs in the crowd, enjoying the experience without fear of rabies or that the animals were trained to attack them.

The soldiers do not know they are filing in beneath the first U.S. flag to fly over Guadalcanal in 1942, or about the bounty of donated food, drink, free phones and gifts awaiting them in another area of the terminal.

The outgoing flights have a slightly different feel, but instead of saying “welcome home,” the Greeters offer a “we'll see you when you get back” or “be safe.” All the troops hear “thank you for your service” no matter what their destination.

Photos are taken throughout the time they are in Portsmouth, often no longer than an hour, and include a group shot to be added to the “Hall of Heroes” gallery of photographs from every flight. Sadly, these pictures might be the final ones taken of a departing soldier and later become a sad memento for his survivors.

The Greeters travel from across New Hampshire, as well as Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont. Although there a good number are retired military in hats and clothing reflecting their service, anyone can part of this extraordinary experience. Launched in 2005 with a small group of retired Marines and airport workers, the Pease Greeters have mushroomed to an alert list of well over 2,000 and are supported by business, civic and veteran’s organizations.

The program extends far beyond clapping or offering food. For example, there are hundreds of women who knit and crochet hats for every soldier who passes through Pease en route overseas because it gets cold in the desert and the hats can be worn under their helmets. Every soldier receives an embroidered star cut from a retired flag that’s accompanied by a poem telling them they are not forgotten. There’s also a care package program that sends hundreds of pounds of donated snacks, toiletries and fun items monthly to soldiers overseas.

Each airport event ends with a ceremony with a presentation of the colors, the Star-Spangled Banner, a prayer, and a “we the old warriors support you, the young warriors” salute between veterans and the troops. The ranking officer on each flight is presented with a sweatshirt signed by the Greeters because “we'd give you the shirt off our backs in thanks.” The soldiers re-board the plane to find the knit hats, stars and chocolates. As the plane departs, a “Fence Force” of Greeters goes to the end of the runway to wave flags and signs, no matter the time or weather.

I’ve had the privilege of participating in a few of these events and each time it makes me grateful for our men and women in uniform, and also the generosity and kindness of those who support them in this and every way.


5 New Year's Resolutions to Make Every Year

With every new year comes a clean slate and the opportunity to make your next 365 days as meaningful as possible. What are some of your resolutions? We came up with some ideas for resolutions for this year and every year after.

From our OGTV family to yours, Happy New Year!

Keep reading... Show less

Blind Waiter Serves Up Diner Classics and Life Lessons

** As we wind down to the final days of this difficult year, OGTV is tipping our hat to all of the essential workers on the front lines with this uplifting story about a New Jersey man who has found a way to do this difficult job for years, even without his eyesight! **

The flickering neon sign reflects eerily off the aging, chrome exterior; a long smooth marble counter with spinning stools draws your gaze left and right as you enter; the checkered linoleum floor seeps under the rows of back-to-back leather booths enveloped by the rain streaked wrap-around windows. You may think you've entered a typical American roadside eatery, but your experience here will be anything but ordinary.

You have just stepped into the Bendix Diner, a staple in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey since the 1940's. It's no surprise that The Bendix can serve up a sizzling Burger with deep fried onion rings and a frothy chocolate shake. What is unique about this meal is the waiter who delivers it to your table – his name is John Diakakis, and he is blind.

Keep reading... Show less

How to Reduce Feelings of Isolation and Loneliness - Ask The Doctor (E7)

During these incredibly stressful days, OnlyGood TV is excited to launch a new series - Ask The Doctor - that explores the questions and provides guidance for finding the road to achieving emotional, psychological, and spiritual wellness.

Hosted by Dr. Stacy Berman, each episode will help you navigate through these rough times and find your way to a happier and healthier life. Feeling lonely and isolated during quarantine? In this episode, Stacy reminds us that we are all wired to be part of a social community and offers a simple, self-soothing exercise to fill that connection gap that we are all experiencing.

Keep reading... Show less

Are You A Christmas Trivia Expert? - Not Your Average Joe

Everyone could use a few more smiles in their daily lives…and watching a funny video will often do the trick! OnlyGood TV videos help make your life fun, more manageable, happy and stress free!

Joe Leonardo is an improv actor from New York City. For our new "man on the street" series, Not Your Average Joe, he traveled through Times Square asking New Yorkers trivia questions about Christmas! Check out this hysterical video and see which city pedestrians know their facts and which don't... Keep track of your own answers too! Happy Holidays!

Keep reading... Show less

Chefs Honor Sailors and Their Families With a Holiday Feast to Remember (Random Acts of Cooking E1)

What would be a unique way to honor the service of 400 hungry sailors and their families for the holidays? You contact Chef Plum, have him round up his crew of top flight chefs and grill masters, bring in enough food to feed…well…the Navy, spice it up with a dash of top flight entertainment, and you have all of the ingredients for a memorable evening of food, love, and family!

Keep reading... Show less

Sullivan the Therapy Dog Helps Make A Christmas Movie - Sullivan's Travels

** OGTV is celebrating the first day of winter and the holiday season by inviting you to join a golden retriever named Sullivan on one of his many adventures. **

Do you ever wonder what a day in the life of a therapy dog is like? In the OGTV Original Series "Sullivan's Travels," a golden retriever therapy dog named Sullivan Travolta takes us along with her as she assists folks in all kinds of settings. Having been trained at Project Chance in Jacksonville, Florida, Sullivan provides support and happiness to kids and adults in schools, nursing homes, classes, and any other program where she's needed.

Keep reading... Show less

* OGTV Top Videos *

Watch and Subscribe
It's a Positivity Movement
OnlyGood TV on YouTube


Get your Only Good TV Newsletter