Final Farewell to R&R at the Dallas Airport

Even thinking about the folks who volunteer their time at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to welcome servicemembers returning for their R&R (or, in some cases, deployment) makes me tear up a little. Envision the scene with me – cheering volunteers, waving flags and clapping as uniformed personnel walk through the airport to organize their flights home where friends and family are eagerly waiting their turns.

Awww. Sigh.

But soon that special walk at DFW Airport and the “Welcome a Hero Home” program will go away forever, this story reports. That’s because starting this month, most deployments won’t be more than nine-months-long, eliminating the mid-deployment trip home ... and the need for the “Homecoming Way" station. The last scheduled R&R flight into DFW is scheduled for March 14.

Right now the Army office that supports R&R servicemembers has 12 personnel running it. When the station closes mid-March those people will be reassigned.

The USO, which operates those glorious servicemember lounges at DFW and airports across the country, will still be functioning, of course, taking care of both personnel and families who come in and out of the airport.

Like the story on Military.com says, this all seems kind of sad:

"It is really bittersweet," [said Army spokesman Hank Minitre]. "The drawdown of forces overseas is a good thing. But the bitter part of it is that we will miss the absolutely mind-blowing and overwhelming support that soldiers have received at DFW Airport. They are treated like rock stars there."
According to the story, volunteers have been working the walk since 2004 – and have been there welcoming servicemember home for more than 2,700 days straight regardless of weather, holiday or hour. These are the people who make my Soldier feel loved before I can get to him.

If you don't find that a little touching, at the least, you're made of stone.

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