LIMESTONE, Maine — For thousands of veterans and families visiting the former Loring Air Force Base over the weekend, the trip back north meant reuniting with people they have long considered their closest friends.
Even if some of those friends have not seen each other in decades.
The Loring Military Heritage Center hosted three days of events celebrating the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force. On Friday, cars lined the road leading to the base’s former runway. People watched in awe as a B-52 bomber jet from Minot Air Force Base in Minot, North Dakota, soared overhead.
Just one day before, another B-52 from Barksdale Air Force Base in Barksdale, Louisiana, touched down on the base. Though Friday’s jet flight was merely a fly-over, the Barksdale aircraft remained at Loring and became the center of attention as people stopped to take photographs.
But for veterans like Rick Fowler of Pearl, Mississippi, the B-52s were merely an excuse to catch up with old comrades.
“I came here mainly to see these guys. We all served together,” Fowler said, as he pointed to friends Chuck Lombard of Laurel, Maryland, to his left and Mitch Geary of Norfolk, Nebraska, to his right.
Surrounding them were several other men who served at Loring in the 1980s.
Fowler served in Limestone from July 1981 to January 1983 as part of a back-up fire protection team for the B-52 storage facilities. After leaving the Air Force in 1983, he spent over three decades in law enforcement.