Motorcycle ministry welcomes airmen home
By Gary Popp
Published in News on March 14, 2011 1:46 PM
The M25 ministry from First Pentecostal Holiness Church, led by Goldsboro Fire Chief Gary Whaley, recently welcomed home nine airmen from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
The M25 ministry is a international group, made up primarily of motorcycle enthusiasts, that focuses many of its efforts on members of the military and their families.
The Goldsboro ministry paired with another M25 group from Siler City Pentecostal Holiness Church at Raleigh-Durham International Airport to honor the airmen returning from their deployment.
Whaley said when individuals from the group found out that the airmen were returning, they grabbed their flags and banners and planned the trip that took four hours out of their day.
"We want our military to know how much we love and support them and appreciate their sacrifices to protect our way of life," Whaley said. "We want them to know when they are overseas someone here cares."
A total of 28 members of M25 were at the terminal to welcome home the airmen, who were part of the 336th's Rocketeers. Four of the airmen were members of the fighter squadron, and five were members of the aircraft maintenance unit.
"I think they were excited. I don't think they were expecting us. They were a little overwhelmed. It was really neat," Whaley said. "We got a lot of thank yous."
The M25 ministries members arrived at the airport on 19 motorcycles and other vehicles.
Whaley said his ministry was assisted by the USO and the airport authorities to organize the welcoming of the service men and women.
As a member of M25 for three years, Whaley has been involved in several welcome home ceremonies.
"(The events) are all special and unique," Whaley said. "It was just another opportunity for us to show our appreciation for what they do."