Marine pilot’s family tours presidential helicopter

When Marine One took off carrying President Obama, Maj. Jeremy Deveau, who grew up in East Millinocket, sat in the right seat piloting the White Hawk helicopter.

The Marine pilot was unavailable for comment, but Greg Currier, a boyhood friend who was at the airport to greet him, said Deveau has been flying helicopters since his 1998 graduation from Tulane University in New Orleans.

While the president spoke at the Portland Expo, Currier, who lives in South Portland — and South Portland residents Lisa Stoudt, Zoe McAvoy and Laura Ordway, who are cousins of Deveau’s wife — were taken on a tour of the aircraft by the Marine pilot.

“My cousin called and said we could come and watch (the president) get off the helicopter, and maybe see the helicopters,” said Stoudt.

On Thursday, the Marine detachment flew up from Portsmouth International Airport on a shake-down flight.

“On their rehearsal, the visibility was so bad they had to fly over the turnpike to use as a guide,” Currier said. “When they went home, they flew down the coastline to Boston, and then flew back up to Portsmouth.”

The president spoke at two fundraisers in Boston on Thursday night.

Airport secured well ahead of president’s touchdown

Marine One touched down at the Portland International Jetport at 2:45 p.m., about 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

But Northeast Air, which provides services to privately owned planes at its facility off the east-west runway, went into lockdown mode hours before the president arrived.

Before his arrival, three sniffer dogs patrolled the area with their handlers.

About an hour before the president arrived, a cherry picker placed three snipers on the roof of the Northeast Air terminal.

About 15 minutes before the flight of six Marine helicopters landed, a Coast Guard rescue helicopter made a pass of the airport, then moved off to the east and hovered over the Fore River.

Secret Service takes over Northeast Air’s facility

The Secret Service took over the Northeast Air facility until the president left.

“We just stay out of their way and assist as needed,” said Dexter Tatum, manager of Northeast Air. “We give them assistance, whatever they need.”

When Secret Service agents say stay out of the way, they mean it.

While the president was at the Expo, a fuel truck from Northeast Air drove up to the presidential aircraft, but Marine ground crewmen actually topped off the tanks.

“We’re not allowed to fuel the aircraft ourselves,” Tatum said. “We can take the equipment out, but the Marine One detachment has to hook up and fuel it.”

Red Claws didn’t mind sharing their building

The Maine Red Claws got tickets to the president’s speech at the last minute, thanks to general manager Jon Jennings.

The team, which plays at the Portland Expo, arrived after practice Thursday and slipped into the line.

“It’s an epic moment,” said guard Maurice Ager.

Said guard Morris Almond: “This will be the highlight of my year.”

Afterward, the team dispersed with the crowd, some extremely moved to see Obama for the first time.

“It was awesome. A great experience for me,” said forward Darnell Lazare.

“I enjoyed the speech. He does get your undivided attention. To have this opportunity was cool.”

The group sat within a basketball’s distance of the stage.

Marcus Landry, a Boston Celtics prospect, said Obama’s visit moved him to get more involved in the political process.

Said guard Brock Gillespie, who recently joined the team: “I think he does a good job convincing people of what he believes in. He’s got a positive outlook.”

Obama leaves with Maine apparel, gifts for the family

The Obama family was outfitted with some signature Maine items following Thursday’s presidential visit.

Gov. John Baldacci presented several gifts to the president during a brief meeting before Obama spoke in Portland, according to Joy Leach, a Baldacci spokeswoman.

There were L.L. Bean boots for the president and Michelle Obama, and Bean backpacks for their daughters Malia and Sasha, Leach said.

Other gifts included a University of Maine jersey (labeled No. 1, of course) and a 24.7 carat cut-and-polished piece of tourmaline, which is the state gemstone. This particular stone, a blue tourmaline, was discovered on Presidents Day this year, according to the Newry-Dunton Tourmaline Mining LLC, which presented it to the governor Wednesday.

The governor last saw President Obama in February during a Washington visit, Leach said.

Fort Kent resident offers Obama custom snowshoes

Brian Theriault of Fort Kent brought a gorgeous pair of wood-and-rawhide snowshoes he had made for the president. Metal plates attached to the shoe tops read “President Barack Obama 1/20/09” — the date he took office. Plates on the bottom read “Snowshoe 1” — as in Airforce 1, Marine 1.

Get it?

Theriault didn’t have tickets to the president’s speech, and it wasn’t clear if the Aroostook County offerings found their way to the president. 

Bipartisanship apparent in the day’s music selection

So the president walked in to “Hail to the Chief,” of course.

But he walked out to “Only in America” by Brooks & Dunn?

That number was followed by “It’s a Beautiful Day” by U2, and then “The Rising” by Bruce Springsteen.

That’s a way to make an exit.



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