WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Captain Jeremiah Marquez spent August 2014 through April this year away from his wife and son deployed in Afghanistan.
“When you’re overseas … you only have the Air Force base installation you live on for your support,” Marquez said. “But when you come back to the States, not only do you have the base support, but the community support and friends and family within driving distance.”
To honor the service he and countless other individuals dedicated to the US Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base hosted Heroes Welcome Heroes Thursday as a means of saying thank you and allowing the community to express its appreciation as well.
More than 50 families attended the family-oriented event, which offered live music, entertainment, food and the opportunity for the Airman to socialize with fellow deployed.
“We appreciate their service,” said Colonel John Devillier, commander of the 88th Air Base Wing of Wright Patterson Air Force Base. “That’s really what it’s about. It’s a small thank you to them for their sacrifices and a way to publicly recognize them.”
The event, held annually, offers WPAFB and the community the opportunity to express its appreciation for the service provided by those who experienced a deployment within the last year. Mayor Brian Jarvis of the City of Beavercreek, in addition to City Manager Michael Cornell of the City of Beavercreek, Representative Rick Perales and Retired Colonel President Ken Curell of the Armed Forces Association represented community leaders at the event. Meanwhile Devillier and his wife, Chief Master Sergeant Lisa Arnold, command chief of the 88th Air Base Wing of Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Executive Director of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Patsy Reeves and her husband Wayne, as well as Colonel Trisha Sexton, vice commander of the National Air Space Intelligence Center and her husband Jerry were in attendance as well.
“Anytime you have the opportunity to say thank you to somebody, you should take it,” Devillier said. “… It should be continuous — they should get it from their commander when they get home, from their coworkers when they get back — this is a formal way for the community to say thank you.”
Marquez spent six of his nine year Air Force career within a deployment, but appreciated the support provided to his family by WPAFB’s Airman of Family Readiness Center while he was away. Through it, the Marquez’s were able to attend events, have lawn care and emergency management provided to their home.
“It’s considerably different and it makes it a lot easier to be away from the family when you know they’re being taken care of in every which way,” Marquez said.
He spent time in both Japan and Turkey throughout his career, and came to know the companionship offered by fellow deployed Airman along the way. He hoped another individual who shared the deployment experience with him would be in attendance at Thursday’s event, and just last week he met up with another fellow Airman who was in town to reminisce and catch up on the happenings of each others lives.
“It’s just great to be back,” Marquez said. “It was a long eight months in Afghanistan. The mission was incredible and I’m glad I got to be there and got to contribute and actually make an impact on what we’re doing over there.”