Nikki C’Hair and Reggy Clark shook the hands of the military color guard after their arrival Monday at Riverton Regional Airport. (Ernie Over photo)
(Riverton, Wyo.) – A Fremont County soldier returning from the war in Afghanistan received a surprise greeting from an Armed Forces Color Guard and her family Monday morning at Riverton Regional Airport. Trisha “Nikki” C’Hair of Kinnear was first off of the Great Lakes Airlines flight from Denver at 11:45 this morning, and she was followed by her fiancé, another soldier, Reggy Clark of Charleston, South Carolina.
A Fremont County Color Guard composed of representatives from the Marine Corps League, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the VFW Auxiliary snapped to attention as C’Hair and Clark entered the terminal. As her fellow passengers waited outside, C’Hair was greeted by family with hugs and handshakes and much applause. After the other passengers proceeded through the terminal, Willow Pingree sang an honor song for the two soldiers, both members of the 77th Engineering Company based at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He sang “Soldier Girl” for her, the same song that was sung in her honor before her deployment. Pingree added an extra verse to include “Soldier Boy” to also recognize C’Hair’s fiancé.
C’Hair said she had just ended her deployment in Afghanistan two weeks ago, and now was home on a 10 day leave. But when she got off of the bus following her overseas flight to her home base, Clark was waiting at the bottom of the stairs with a marriage proposal. She said yes.
“We had been dating before our respective deployments,” the couple both said, almost in unison. “I left three months before she did, so I got home three months earlier,” Clark said. Their respective deployment in Afghanistan was for nine months. C’Hair left for the middle east last December.
Waiting at the airport with the surprise was C’Hair’s grandmother Barbara Armour of Kinnear, who arranged for the Color Guard and the “official” welcome home to Fremont County with the American Legion’s Pat Lawson. Member’s of C’Hair’s family were also on hand for the greeting.
Before the plane landed, on time by the way, everyone in the terminal was handed a small American flag by the VFW Auxiliary’s Cerela Overgard. And each of the arriving passengers received one too, as they made their way into the terminal.
At the conclusion of the honor song, the two were surrounded by well-wishers welcoming them home.
The Marine Corps League’s Grant Clark and Lawson both said the military honor guard is available to welcome home any returning soldier from the Iraq-Afghanistan or any other theatre of conflict. “Just let us know and we’ll come out to welcome them home.”
Photos by Ernie Over, click to enlarge.