Contributing author Joey Slaughter is the owner of Blue Ridge Transport, LLC. A Ringgold, VA based carrier. Joey started his company in 2010 after serving time as an unhappy employee with a local trucking company. The time spent there was not fun but, in hindsight, was a turning point that propelled Joey into the wonderful world of being an entrepreneur. Please visit JoeySlaughter.net for more insightful blogging.
The first time I was in Maine was February 16th, 2008. I was only there for a couple of hours because I arrived at Bangor International Airport after serving nearly a year in Iraq. It was the first place in the U.S. that I and my fellow soldiers would see. Getting to Maine from Iraq was no easy task. It started with a tactical flight from Baghdad to Kuwait, then spending a few days there and waiting for the sandstorms to dissipate before our delayed flight was allowed to leave Kuwait.
Finally, the great journey began as we left the sandbox and headed for Budapest, Hungary, our first stop for fuel and resupply. After a short time there (we couldn’t deplane) we set coordinates for Shannon, Ireland. This was a stop where we could get off the plane and go into the airport while refueling took place. Our commander let us have 1 Guinness draught. I abstained since I don’t travel well as it is. Next stop Bangor, Maine, then onto Gulfport, Mississippi our final destination.
The pic to the right is of my plane arriving on that precious Maine real estate. We landed after crossing the Atlantic Ocean and were greeted at the airport by the “Maine Troop Greeters” of course. I think I’d heard of them before, but never had the opportunity to experience it until that day. Bangor has a very quiet, low key airport with very few flights. When we arrived and walked off the plane, we were greeted by a receiving line of great Americans that just wanted to welcome us back to the U.S.
After the receiving line, there were people giving us phone cards, letting us use their cell phones, coffee, soft drinks, food and plenty of conversation. I talked to many people and was even given a Maine quarter to remember that day. Sadly, I lost that quarter but I’ll never forget that special day as it was probably in the top 10 most memorable moments of my life. The picture to the right is of my unit arriving in Bangor.
Finally, it was time to leave. I could look out the airport windows and see up to 2′ of snow on the ground and told an airport employee how beautiful that looked to me. I also told him, “I’m sure you’ve seen enough of it”, but it was special to me after seeing nothing but sand and brown skies for the last year. My first stop in the U.S was a very special one that I’ll never forget. Thanks Maine!
Fast forward to December 2014. As a volunteer trucker for Wreaths Across America, I set course for Maine for the first time since 2008. I contacted my old Army buddy on Facebook and let him know of my schedule and were able to meet up at Dysart’s, a well known truck stop in Bangor. I hadn’t seen Brett since we were in Germany together back in 1991. We were both single then, now we are both married with teenagers who will soon leave the nest and follow their dreams.
Thanks Maine for the great memories!