Truda Kynard waited for well over an hour in an occasionally heavy mist today at Toledo Express Airport, waiting for a chance to catch President Obama's attention with a sign about her son who is serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.
She came away not only with a presidential handshake, but also a commemorative coin that will surely give Lt. Col. Calwes Kynard II some bragging points among his fellow officers and soldiers -- and one for his brother, Air Force Master Sgt. Victor Truman Kynard, too, who is in the states.
"I'm going to send this coin in his next care package," Mrs. Kynard, of Toledo, said proudly after describing her encounter with the President as "just wonderful."
She was part of a crowd of between 40 and 50 well-wishers who gathered in a "visitors' area" near where Air Force One, under tight security, landed this morning on its second attempt after low clouds prompted its pilot to abort the first approach to the airport.
Approaching from the east, the 747 first appeared amid the cloud ceiling just a few hundred feet above the runway, but it descended no further on the aborted landing and roared back up into the clouds after flying by the assembled crowd. It reappeared perhaps five minutes later after circling the airport and landed without further incident.
The White House press office confirmed that the first landing attempt was scuttled because of the weather.
The Ohio Highway Patrol, Lucas County and Wood County sheriff's offices, and Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority Police all buttressed the security detail provided by the Secret Service. Lucas County Emergency Medical Services also were on hand, with a Life Squad part of the 20-vehicle motorcade from Toledo Express to Bowling Green.
Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said that while his office won't be reimbursed by Mr. Obama's re-election campaign for its assignment of about two dozen people to the President's visit to Bowling Green, overtime pay will go to three of his department staffers assigned to a Special Response Team.
The security detail included about a dozen volunteer auxiliary deputies, Mr. Wasylyshyn said, and regular patrols in the county were backed up by crews from neighboring Sandusky and Ottawa counties.
Moments after Air Force One's landing, one of the airport spectators suffered a medical problem and, after receiving initial care from emergency medical technicians, was carried on a gurney to an ambulance.
Besides shaking hands with the spectators, Mr. Obama was greeted by a welcoming committee of 10 local Democratic party leaders, elected officials, and other dignitaries.
"I thought it was really cool to see him come off the plane, and getting his autograph," said Nathan Brown, 10, who traveled with his father, Mark, and sister, Lydia, 8, from their Dublin, Ohio home to see the President's arrival.
Spectators were allowed to bring cameras -- but little else, not even pens -- past a security checkpoint set up by the Secret Service. The autographed cards Mr. Obama passed out were prepared in advance.
Many military units distribute commemorative coins to their members that are then the subject of "challenges" among members of different units or service branches, so a coin from the Commander in Chief is sure by to be cherished by Mrs. Kynard's sons. Her husband, the late Calwes Kynard, also served in the military: with the Army in Vietnam.
The Blade's news services contributed to this report.
Contact David Patch at: email@example.com or 419-724-6094.
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