BANGOR, Maine — Ashley Hebert is a big Toby Keith fan.

So, when her boyfriend, a reservist in the U.S. Coast Guard, received an e-mail from the Maine Military Family Assistance Center about a concert ticket give-away, she made sure he entered.

Ethan Chittim, 26, and Hebert, 20, both of Waterville were two of 100 people who received tickets late Saturday afternoon to the 7 p.m. concert on the Bangor Waterfront.

About 400 tickets to the well-known country-western singer’s concert were requested from people who live in Maine and serve part-time in the military, according to Kerry Birmingham of the Military Family Assistance Center. The tickets were purchased by the Maine chapter of Operation Homefront, a national organization that provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors.

The Saturday afternoon event included a moment of silence for Lt. Robert Emerson of Norway, whose funeral was held at 2 p.m. Saturday, more than 65 years after he died in World War II. Emerson was one of five men who died on April 3, 1945, when their bomber crashed in the Philippines, Birmingham told the crowd of about 100 gathered near the Paul Bunyan statue.

“He was buried in Maryland for decades,” he said, “but his remains were flown back to Maine recently after being identified through DNA.”
Gov. Paul LePage ordered that flags be flown at half staff Saturday in his honor.

The governor also recently issued a proclamation honoring Keith for the nine USO tours he has undertaken and the patriotic songs he’s recorded. Ann LePage, the governor’s wife presented the proclamation to Maj. Gen. John W. Libby, adjutant general of the Maine National Guard, who was scheduled to present it to Keith during his concert Saturday night.

Chittim, who was on active duty with the U.S. Coast Guard from 2003 to 2009, said he was looking forward to the concert as much as Herbert was.

“I work in the field of mental health,” he said. “I’ve been working a lot this summer. The last week has been more than a little stressful. I’m looking forward to enjoying the music on a beautiful summer evening.”