A welcome fit for heroes.

Family members watch as police escorts arrive.

Thomas Kimball, Jr., 66, of Salisbury, Maryland, is a US Navy Vietnam veteran and the VFW National Military Services Chairman for the Department of Maryland.

During Vietnam, Kimball served aboard the USS Newport News CA-148, a.k.a. “The Gray Ghost,” as a Cruiser Sailor. Now he’s dedicating his life to giving back to his comrades.

In August 2013, Kimball worked with the 115th Military Police’s Family Support Group to plan a welcome home event for the unit, even enlisting the help of all District 16 VFW and Ladies Auxiliary members, as well as community leaders.

The Welcome Home was held at the Salisbury National Guard Armory on September 25, 2013. The turnout was astounding—more than 350 soldiers, families and community members, including several members of the Salisbury/Wicomico County Police and Fire Departments.

“The Salisbury Fire Department stood outside with a gigantic U.S. Flag,” said Kimball. “You could hear sirens wailing from miles away as several police cars escorted unit members from the airport. Hogs for Heroes, a group of more than 100 motorcyclists, joined the entourage. Route 50 was even lined with people waving flags and cheering.”

Several VFW members volunteered at the event and a VFW Military Assistance Program grant provided refreshments—soda, water, coffee, chips and cookies.

“There was nothing but love abound … hugs, kisses, tears of joy,” said Kimball. “There was wonderment as some soldiers saw their newborn babies for the first time. The joy on all their faces was amazing.”

Kimball was humbled by the outpouring of support from his community. He takes great pride in helping veterans and is also involved in several other projects, including the Maryland VFW Annual Wounded Warrior Event in which 75 to 100 soldiers and their families spend two days at a beach resort in Ocean City. All expenses are paid by the VFW.

“We can show our military and their families that the VFW sincerely cares about them and is out there fighting on their behalf every day,” said Kimball. “I believe that our organization does very important work, and I’m always so proud to see the faces of the service members who benefit.”

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