Operation Thank You welcomes troops at Tri-Cities Airport

By GEOFF FOLSOM | Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.) | Published: July 26, 2014

Two best friends from Prosser, who spent a year deployed to Afghanistan together in the Army, came home Friday.

Spc. Jordon Bogart and Spc. Jesse McManus, both 22, were welcomed at the Tri-Cities Airport by family, veterans and members of Operation Thank You, a group that provides homecomings and care packages for military members.

Also welcomed home were Spc. Randy Tran of Pasco and Spc. Mathew Fife of Selah, a former Prosser resident. All are combat engineers with the 455th Engineering Company, an Army Reserve unit based in Hayden, Idaho.

"When we ended up going with each other and being put in the same platoon, it was a relief," McManus said.

McManus and Bogart are graduates of Prosser High School and work at Milne Fruit Products in their civilian life.

Bogart got to see his 2-year-old daughter, Myah, for the first time since she was about a year old. He looked forward to a meal of steak and asparagus after the flight home.

"It's good to see who cares about you and all the love and support you have," he said.

Bogart's mother, Angela Hancock, said it was a long year, and she's glad to have the entire family back together.

"The toughest part is just the anxiety of not knowing what they're doing," she said. "It's very unpredictable."

McManus was ready for some barbecue from Famous Dave's and a trip to Lincoln City, Ore.

"I'm just going to relax and check out my options for school," he said.

A line of supporters greeted the soldiers as they headed toward baggage claim, holding signs and offering handshakes and hugs.

Operation Thank You member Pam Swarner said the number of military members they welcome back is starting to pick up.

"We've had kind of a dry spell, but they're starting to switch people in and out," she said.

Tran, 22, who grew up in Richland, was grateful for the reception.

"It was a great surprise coming back to the airport and seeing all the supporters," he said. "It's a very wonderful feeling."

He looked forward to the weather in the Tri-Cities compared to the "blistering heat" of Afghanistan.

"We've had windy sandstorms to the rainy season to really hot outside," he said.


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