Supporters of a Maine Troop Greeters Museum kicked off a public campaign to raise $500,000 on Tuesday at the Bangor International Airport.

The museum would be located in the hallway in the airport where the greeters meet the returning troops.

Present at the event was Master Sgt. Kevin Tillman, who famously played a rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner" on a borrowed saxophone when his flight stopped at BIA in 1991.

Once built the museum will house a large collection of memorabilia that has been collected over the last fourteen years as the greeters have welcomed departing and returning troops at Bangor International Airport.

Since 2003, the Maine Troop Greeters have welcomed over 1.5 million Troops either going overseas or returning from duty at Bangor International Airport.  These greetings have resulted in a collection of memorabilia consisting of over 5,000 challenge coins, 1,000+ patches, 500+ dog tags, flags, banners and many letters of gratitude.  The museum will ensure that these items are displayed and preserved for all to appreciate, according to organizers.

According to museum committee co-chairs Cathy Czarnecki and Gil Cory, the effort to build the museum is an important one to the Maine Troop Greeters.

“This collection of memorabilia represents the sacrifice that our troops have made on behalf of our country.  The troops have shared these important coins, flags, patches, letters and much more with us and it is our duty to preserve them and to tell their story, and the story of what has taken place here, to all who visit the museum,” said Czarnecki.

In March, the Maine Troop Greeters announced that they had greeted more than 1.5 million returning soldiers.

You may donate to the effort at mainetroopgreetersmuseum.org.