(CNN) - Former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush surprised 145 troops returning home from war Wednesday, greeting them at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
The service members, most returning for a two-week break, arrived on a charter flight expecting to be met by the Dallas-based Welcome Home A Hero organization.
But waiting with the crowd at the international arrivals section were the smiling former president and first lady. "We didn't tell them at all what was going on," said the leader of the welcoming group, Lt. Col. Patrick McAfee. "It was shock and awe when they walked in the double doors."
Most of the returning service members are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A spokesman for Bush, David Sherzer, said they were "honored" to take part in the welcome. "President Bush often says that he doesn't miss much about being the President, but he does miss being the Commander in Chief of an incredible group of men and women", he said.
"It was a remarkable, incredible feeling for them, seeing the former commander in chief taking time to greet them," McAfee said.
Bush handed each of the service members his commander-in-chief coin and posed for pictures for everyone. Photos from the event showed the surprise on the faces of many of the troops.
"For the first time in my life, I was star struck," McAfee said. "He obviously still loves the military."
The Bushes joined with more than 30 youth football players through the Slant 45 organization to take part in the ceremony. The group is part of the Super Bowl community program in advance of the 2011 Super Bowl at Arlington, Texas.
"It was just a great lift of our spirits" for the welcoming committee, McAfee said. The group welcomes troops home whenever their flights return, no matter the hour. "We sometimes have people in pajamas and robes in the middle of the night."
(Updated at 7:25 p.m. ET)
So nice that they could drive to the local airport and shake a few hands of the people who's lives they ruined.
Gosh, a man with some class ought to piss off the current administration. Hope is not a plan folks
These class acts are sorely missed. When compared to the narcissistic debris currently occupying the White House, the contrast is stark. God deliver us from our national nightmare, and soon.
God Bless you President and Laura Bush!
just seeing laura & george bush highlighted the classlessness of the present occupants of the white house. it is really so disheartening to see how far our country has fallen in 2 years. i pray people will begin to want patriotism, pride, humbleness and class again in our leaders – all of which are so lacking in what we have now! thank you bush's for your concern for our military!
It is good to see the worst president ever out and about. His list of accomplishments include unfunded tax cuts to the wealthy that cost taxpayers $3 trillion, Iraq war at $1.2 trillion, drug programs at $600 billion and the bank bailout at $778 billion. I forgot to mention the biggest growth in government with his lame duck homeland security. Jimmy Carter created 22 million jobs in one term, and W created less than 3 million in two terms, losing 8 million in his last year.
Contrary to what the above pic is implying, combat troops -- and hence casualties -- are disproportionately white (70+%).
The GI in the photo was almost certainly "in the rear with the gear" during his deployment.
Ever notice how right wingnuts blame everyone else for W's incompetence?
Good grief, George. Stay home. You and your family and cohorts have done enough damage.