A welcome home before ‘home’
May 6, 2007
ROCKFORD — A detachment of men and women from the U.S. Navy made a stop Saturday in Rockford, fueling their chartered jet before starting the last leg of their journey home from the Persian Gulf.
The Rockford layover was about 2½ hours long. Making the time pass faster was a mobile canteen from The Salvation Army, along with dozens of well-wishers from the Rockford chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America.
Mark Lawrence, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War, said his motivation for greeting the sailors was to show support for the troops.
“We didn’t get a welcome home from Vietnam,” he said.
John Lawrence, Mark’s brother, is an emergency disaster services coordinator for The Salvation Army. He said Saturday’s work, during which they offered snacks, coffee and mobile phones, was “hugely successful.”
“If we know about it, we’ll be here,” he said. “I’m just glad we can help.”
The unit was flying on a Ryan International Airlines 757-300. They left Kuwait at 1 p.m. Friday, Rockford time, and made fueling stops in Romania and Iceland before landing at Chicago/Rockford International Airport at 11 a.m. Saturday. (emphasis added)