BULLHEAD CITY — U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Victoria Doss received a hero’s welcome home from dozens of community members Sunday.
The well-wishers — many with ties to the military — waved U.S. flags as they stood outside the VFW post awaiting the arrival of Doss, 25, and her escorting party.
The Patriot Guard Riders brought Doss from her family’s residence in the Fort Mohave area to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 10005 in Bullhead City. Motorcycles and other escorts — including a representative from the Bullhead City Police Department who led them through the city — didn’t use Highway 95 but came along a less-traveled route. It provided people watching for Doss a good, long view as the escorts made their way downhill on Marble Canyon Drive toward the post and entered the parking lot.
Doss’s father, Wes, watched while her mother, Hye-Chong, captured video of the event. Doss rode in a red, white and blue open vehicle and had barely exited it before receiving numerous hugs and handshakes.
The well-wishers then formed a circle around Doss as the Lee Greenwood song “God Bless the USA” began playing. When the song ended, well-wishers formed lines along each side of the walkway leading toward the front door of the post.
“If you don’t shed a tear seeing something like this, there’s something wrong,” said Becky Glomb-Gruver, a member of Tri-State Military Moms since her son enlisted in the Navy in 2015. He’s home on leave and will be going back to work next week.
Tri-State Military Moms decorated the room at the VFW where the welcome party was held with red, white and blue decorations and, of course, plenty of food. Doss was presented with tokens of gratitude, including an array of gift cards. She also received a key to the city.
And there was a hat passed around. People were asked to donate some cash so Doss would have some walking around money.
“I love the outpouring of patriotism, the family atmosphere,” said George Brown, who lives in Bullhead City and has known Doss’s father for about 15 years. “It’s both exciting and heartwarming to watch.”
Tri-State Military Moms plays the major role in planning and carrying out welcome home parties for military members from the area. The group was started soon after the
Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks by mothers with sons in the military. Their primary purpose was to support each other during their children’s deployments and provide care packages to young men and women overseas.
It became a nonprofit and began doing other things to support military members, such as welcome home events. They also work with Bullhead City and the Arizona Department of Transportation on a banner program that honors active duty military members from the area.
Cindy Frizelle, Military Moms president, smiled as she asked Wes and Hye-Chong Doss to come to the front of the room.
“We try to give Mom and Dad something because they give us so much,” Frizelle said about Doss’ parents. Wes was presented with a gift bag and Hye-Chong received flowers.
Wes thanked his daughter for “making your parents proud.”
He said later that the outpouring of gratitude from the community to his daughter was impressive — and more than he received after 21 years in the military.
Doss, who returned home Saturday, graduated from River Valley High School in 2010 and spent three years at Northern Arizona University studying psychology before deciding to enter the USAF five years ago.
She didn’t have a military career path in mind but had another goal.
“I wanted to make my parents proud,” Doss said.
Wes said afterward that his daughter coming home now was extra special because his and Hye-Chong’s wedding anniversary was this week and that having her home for it was a wonderful gift.
Frizelle said earlier that despite working hard to let people know their group exists, there are more active military members from here than they know about. The number of welcome home parties they organize each year can vary. And they are eager to do this for more veterans who visit their families and new veterans who come from the Tri-State, she said.
“If somebody calls us, we’ll do it,” she said. “We know there are more of them out there.”
This is Doss’ first visit home in about five years. The security officer received knee and shoulder injuries during a rocket attack while stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, last November.
She was treated stateside at Robbins Air Force Base in Georgia. Her parents went to see her as she recovered from her injuries.
Doss intends to re-enlist, she added.
Bullhead City Council Member Sheila Shutts, a Marine veteran involved with the VFW Auxiliary, said recognizing military service is important to many in Bullhead City.
“We have a lot of military people living here,” she said.
Showing gratitude for such sacrifice is greatly appreciated, she added.
If you know someone from the Tri-State area in the military, on leave or has recently become a veteran, contact Frizelle at 928-201-0319 or firstname.lastname@example.org