Ride Report posted for Al “Bluesman”

In Northeast PA this morning, it was one of those “this is what it’s all about” times! I arrived at the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Intl Airport in Avoca, PA at about 0830 hrs…a good hour and a half before the scheduled arrival of our Hero, MGySgt. Edward Mallas USMC. I use the excuse that I want to be early to makes sure the flight schedule has not changed, and to be sure that airport security was aware and ready…but the truth is, on a mission like this, I get too cranked up, and just can’t wait to get there!
Airport security was ready, all right…they knew what to expect…or at least they thought they did! We still took them by surprise!
About 8:45, more bikes and cars started arriving. By the time I started my pre-escort ride briefing, there were over seventy-five bikes present, at least a dozen four-wheelers, and bikes still rolling in! There was no more room in front of the terminal! Bikes were sent to a nearby attached lot, along with the cars and trucks. Over a hundred bikes, total!! Many traveled a couple of hundred miles for this event. 

Attending our briefing were members of (and I apologize if I omitted anyone) A Hero’s Welcome, Soldiers’ Angels, Rolling Angels for Armed Forces, Legion Riders, Friends of the Forgotten Northeast Wing, Friends of the Forgotten Inc., Valley Forge HOG, Blue Comets MC, Warriors’ Watch Riders, Abate, and….Leathernecks from four states! These Marines came from Ohio, New York and New Jersey to welcome home a brother who has done more than “above and beyond the call of duty” for his country.
Mission Captain Jeannie “Princess” Long said she had made “one phone call” and lo and behold, here come the Marines! The briefing was pretty standard…riding procedures, route outlined by “Pitbull”, USMC member of Rolling Angels…until “Princess” stood up to tell us about our Hero. Dear “Princess” got a little emotional, and with good reason. MGySgt. Edward Mallas has served his country on four tours, going back to Desert Storm. His latest tour of duty was Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. Yes, certainly more than “above and beyond the call of duty”! But he’s a Marine!
Shortly before 1000, we proceeded upstairs to the arriving flights ramp, and two flag lines were formed, with A Hero’s Welcome crossing the far end with their banner. As first sight of our Hero was made, a deafening cheer arose from the crowd. What else would we expect, with all those Leathernecks and other Marines present!
Our Hero came down the ramp to cheers, hugs, muggings, backslaps and kisses! All well-deserved! A certificate of appreciation was presented by A Hero’s Welcome’s Bill Holdsworth, a coin was palmed by WWR, and all of this was caught and covered by local news WNEP-TV and WBRE-TV. Both TV stations informed us that they had never seen anything like this before, for an individual Hero. Our response, of course, is that if it’s one, or a hundred and one…it’s all the same to us.
After the uproar inside calmed a bit, we all proceeded outside, to the bikes and cars. Miss “Princess” was relegated to the back seat of her own Harley, as MGySgt. Mallas took the rider’s position and the controls, to ride in his own escort. He positioned himself and Princess behind a dozen or so bikes with full flags. He had a party to get to!
Pennsylvania State Police led us out of the airport, toward I-81. As we departed the terminal, about sixty Leatherneck bikes, who had been assembled in the additional lot, fell in behind their Brother, followed by the rest of the bikes and cages. PSP led us up I-81 to Dunmore, PA, where we were picked up by a tag-team of Law Enforcement and Fire Department vehicles from the towns of Dunmore, Throop, Olyphant, and Jessup. Jessup FD led the procession, with their sirens blaring, to the Jessup VFW, where a reception was held. Carloads of food had been prepared in advance, and all dug in to carry it inside, where a fantastic buffet was set up.
This is one mission where I am truly happy to say that I could not get far enough away to get pictures of all the bikes together, all the people together!
Our thanks to all of the groups and individuals who travelled long distances to welcome home MGySgt. Mallas, Wilkes Barre/Scranton Intl Airport, All State and local Law Enforcement and Fire Departments, to “Pinky”, president of Rolling Angels for Armed Forces for inviting us to this mission, “Princess” for her hard work and connections to make it all happen for a Hero, to WNEP-TV and WBRE-TV, and to A Hero’s Welcome and Soldiers’ Angels Support Team for corresponding with the media…
And especially to MGySgt. Edward Mallas, USMC, for his long and dedicated service to our country!
Respectfully Submitted,
Al “Bluesman” Philo
Warriors’ Watch Riders State Coordinator, PA Northeast Region