The Gorham Police Department honor guard presents the colors Monday in a Wreaths Across America ceremony at Gorham High School. Robert Lowell / American Journal

GORHAM — Tractor trailer trucks loaded with wreaths bound for Arlington National Cemetery stopped at Gorham High School Monday for a ceremony to honor one of last year’s Wreaths Across America escorts, Officer Wayne “Pooch” Drown.

Robert Lowell / American Journal

The school gym was packed with students, veterans, visitors and first responders from around the state. Several Gorham combat veterans were honored with wreaths and received standing ovations.

It was one of several Wreath Across America stops along the route from Maine before a ceremony at the national cemetery on Saturday, Dec. 14. The wreaths will be laid on the graves of the nation’s ward dead.

Police representatives from Gorham and Westbrook are part of the convoy.

“It’s bittersweet going without Pooch,” said Gorham Sgt. Ted Hatch. Drown died earlier this year.

Hatch said veterans salute the convoy along its path to Virginia. “It chokes you up,” he said.

Westbrook Police Chief Janine Roberts describes the Arlington event as inspiring, humbling and reflective. “I get goose bumps,” she said.

Westbrook Officer Dan Violette, a retired Air Force veteran, is making his first trip to Arlington. “I’m told it’s an emotional service,” he said.

Gorham Officer Dean Hannon is on his third trip escorting the convoy. On a previous mission, a family gave Hannon the dog tags and a photo of their fallen loved one. Hannon, during a brief interview Monday, pulled the man’s dog tags from under his uniform shirt. He wears the dog tags every day he’s on duty, he said.

 

Sgt. Ted Hatch runs to catch a ride aboard a Wreaths Across America truck in Gorham Monday. Robert Lowell / American Journal

Gorham Sgt. Ted Hatch chats with this convoy driver during the Wreaths Across America stop in Gorham. Robert Lowell / American Journal

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