‘Operation Welcome Gathering’ Stuns Soldiers At BWI-Marshall

GLEN BURNIE, Md. (WJZ)–A long and dangerous journey comes to an end— just in time for the holidays. Hundreds of soldiers and marines landed Thursday afternoon at BWI-Marshall.

 Mike Schuh was there for the warm welcome.

 Since 2007, 160,000 soldiers have returned to America through our airport. The goal is to give each one a personal welcome. Thursday, a huge crowd gave the soldiers a gift they can remember.

During this time for traveling, from the around the country they come.

But no one has flown further or is more happy to be here than these travelers:

“I started off in Afghanistan,” said one soldier.

“I’ve been to Kuwait,” said another.

BWI-Marshall has greeted more returning troops—44,000 this year alone– than anywhere else.

“To welcome them back to their own house so that they can have [a] break for Christmas,” said one little greeter.

Now, imagine what this must feel like. It looked overwhelming.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said one troop.

“This was a great surprise,” said another. “I was not expecting any of this.”

“It was pretty amazing,” said another.

The crowd of greeters brought one soldier to tears “because people are thankful for me,” she said.

You still have an opportunity to be a part of Operation Welcome Gathering. There is another plane coming in Thursday night at 10 p.m. All you have to do is show up at the international pier. Sometimes the time is off a little bit, so you may have to wait.

The interesting thing about the gathering is that so few of those soldiers’s final stop is in the Baltimore region. Most of them take other flights to go other places. So they really enjoy the warm welcome home before they get greeted by their families at their final destination.

To find out when the next Operation Welcome Gathering will take place, you can call the organization’s hotline at 410-630-1555.

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