HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ -- A crowd of 200 well-wishers gathered Sunday evening at the VFW in Hasbrouck Heights to welcome home United States Air Force Airman First Class J.T. Rinke, on leave for the first time since boot camp. After being greeted by family and members of A Hero's Welcome at Newark Airport following a 20-hour trip from Guam, he received an escort home by a convoy of motorcycles and police cruisers.
The enthusiastic crowd represented a cross-section of citizens and community groups, including members of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services, Police Department, VFW, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, teachers, friends, and family. The event was organized by Rose Pagan of A Hero’s Welcome Northern New Jersey Chapter. The convoy included motorcyclists from the Warriors' Watch Riders, Hackensack Police Department, the Port Authority Police, and the New Jersey State Police.
A Hero’s Welcome is an organization that ensures all service members receive a proper welcome home. Warriors' Watch Riders is an umbrella group, organized to support US servicemen, past and present, and their families. They work closely with A Hero’s Welcome and other troop support groups providing motorcycle escorts for military personnel deploying or returning from home from service.
"A Hero's Welcome along with Warriors Watch got to escort home U.S.A.F. Airman First Class J.T. Rinke," said Rose Pagan, director of A Hero's Welcome northern New Jersey chapter. "It was a wonderful honor and privilege. Thank you to Patriot Guard, Free Masons, American Legion Riders, Eagle Riders, and all the police escorts from the airport."
Rinke is a 2014 graduate of Hasbrouck Heights High School. He will be on leave for one month.