Scores of well-wishers waved banners, flags and cheered Tuesday to welcome home Army Sgt. Michelle Sanchez and, four days earlier, to greet Army Sgt. Aaron Jagger as both came home from Iraq.
The homecomings were among a growing number of community welcome-home celebrations for Pleasanton military men and women who are returning from the Gulf war effort.
Both also were escorted from the airports where they landed by the Warriors Watch Riders, a motorcycle honor team provided by the Warriors' Watch Riders (WWR), the official honor escort for all military welcome home events sponsored by the Pleasanton Military Families organization. The Riders group is led by Fred (aka Spike) Schau, state coordinator of WWR's Northern California chapter.
The Warriors escorted Jagger back home, with his parents Kim and Brian Jagger and other friends and family members greeting him at the Oakland Airport when he arrived. The group then drove through Pleasanton to the Jaggers' Hillsdale Court home, where crowds lined streets to cheer Jagger as he approached.
In a ceremony outside the Jaggers' home, Doug Miller, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6298 in Pleasanton who is now in charge of these welcome home events, praised Jagger for his service in Iraq.
"We appreciate your service and what you've done over in Iraq in supporting 'Operation Iraqi Freedom,'" Miller said. "We're all here because we appreciate the hard work and sacrifice you've made for this community."
A representative of Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton) presented Jagger with a Certificate of Congressional Recognition and a letter of appreciation for his service. Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and Councilman Jerry Thorne also thanked Jagger on behalf of the city.
"I've always felt that men and women who give their time, service and skills for the service of our country are among the most valued citizens," Thorne said. "It's my honor to wish you the very best of everything this country has to offer you."
Also thanking Jagger for his service was Command Sergeant Major Connie Faye Commenia-Hill of the Combat Support Training Center at Camp Parks in Dublin, a member of the Pleasanton VFW post and also, with 36 years of service, the senior enlisted soldier at Camp Parks.
Noting that Jagger's job in the Army was vehicle maintenance, she said: "I especially want to thank you for giving up some of your time to go and defend our country. I know what it's like because I was in Kuwait and Iraq in 2005 and 2006. I also know that the maintenance vehicle person was a great guy to consult because the first time I went out on a mission my vehicle broke down and I needed help."
Others at the ceremony included representatives of the American Legion, Pleasanton Military Families, Operation S.A.M. and Blue Star Moms.
Jagger, who graduated from Foothill High School in 2006, has three months left to serve on active duty. He will then be in the active Army Reserves for four years before being discharged.
Sanchez returned on a direct flight from Germany to San Francisco International Airport, where her parents met her and rode in a Warriors-escorted convoy to their home at 3524 Milleford Ct. in the Laguna Oaks community off Foothill Road.
In a ceremony outside the Sanchez' home, Doug Miller again led ceremonies that included representatives of the VFW, American Legion, Pleasanton Military Families and others.
Councilman Thorne was at the Sanchez homecoming, too, thanking her for her service on behalf of the people of Pleasanton.