An official plane of the New England Patriots NFL football team touched down at Alpena County Regional Airport Monday morning, returning local Michigan National Guard soldiers who had been deployed to Washington D.C.
The soldiers were in the nation’s capital since January 29 to augment District of Columbia National Guard and U.S. Capitol Police in support of the Post Inaugural Security Mission.
The majority of Michigan soldiers were from the 177th Military Police Brigade and the 107th Engineer Battalion.
Alpena troops were flown home on the Patriots Boeing 767 private jet because team owner Bob Kraft has struck a deal with Eastern Airlines, which provides maintenance on the team’s two planes, to transport soldiers across the country. Kraft has commented to the media that he has learned it is better to use the aircraft during the off season, rather than have them sit idle.
In addition to transporting troops, the Patriots planes have been used for various unique purposes, including carrying 76 vaccinated healthcare workers representing all six New England states to this year’s Super Bowl; and flying to China to bring back 1.2 million N95 masks for healthcare workers.