Tag Archives: Air Force

I Say Tomahto…You Say

10 Aug



Judy Wills



I’ve done a number of things in my lifetime, some enjoyable, some not so much. But God has been good to me, and I have had more of the enjoyable ones.One of the fun things is to be able to travel the world. Well, I’ve not been to Asia, but going to Europe was wonderful. I’ve been as a “tourist,” and I also have lived there. I certainly never dreamed that I would live in another country – and I’m sure my mother never thought I would, either. She commented once that I had really “adjusted” well to military life – all that moving around, especially since I grew up in one town and house.

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And so it is that I enjoy hearing European accents in those around me. Fred and I enjoy hearing all the different languages and accents of those we pass while we are doing our thing at Disney. We can tell what season it is by what languages we are hearing.

We’ve known several military couples where the husband was American, and the wife was British, or German, or…..   One especially comes to mind. We were living in Panama City, Florida, on Tyndall AFB.

As a member of the Officers Wives Club, I had chosen to work in the Thrift Shop on Base. It was a fun thing to do and I was able to meet lots of people. The customers were not limited to officers – it was open to everyone. The proceeds went toward scholarships for the high schoolers. So it was a bit of a win-win situation.

One of the wives who worked along side with me was British. She was a quirky, fun person to be around. One thing she told us once has stuck with me all these years. Her children were rather young (elementary school age, I believe) at the time. In her son’s class was a young girl named Kirsten. Linda had a hard time remembering how to pronounce her name, and her son fussed at her. He kept saying, “Mom, it’s KIRsten…KIRsten….not KRIsten!” Her response was, “Well, you know I grew up in another country, and I sometimes have a hard time pronouncing your American names. For instance, I say tomahto and you say (she pointed to him)…. (and he said) tomato. I say bahth and you say (she again pointed to him)….(and with a cheeky grin he said) (wait for it…………) shower!”


We’ve had a good laugh over that one through the years.



2014 TICO Airshow~Part 1

26 Mar

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites



Several years ago, my friend Terry gave me a nice 16”x20” print of a Red Tailed P-51Mustang shooting down a German Me-109 somewhere over the Western Front during WWII. If you look close, you’ll see the painting depicts the smoking German airplane with the pilot stepping out on the wing, getting ready to bail out over the side, while the American pilot watches from a distance.  The print hangs on my bedroom wall, surrounded by many other airplane pictures, where I can enjoy them any time I want a thrill.


“Two down and one to go” By W. S. Phillips


I had known about the Tuskegee Airmen from my study of WWII aviation history, and the movie “Red Tails” and was always impressed with the many challenges those men had to endure to become fighter pilots during the war.  I had even visited the Tuskegee Airmen Museum in Tuskegee, AL two years ago during a trip to visit my friend Terry. However, I had never imagined that I would ever have the honor to meeting any of them in person.       3  

 As part of my retirement “fun”, I volunteer as a tour guide, one day a week at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum here in Titusville, Florida. This weekend was the museum’s 2014 annual Airshow, and the theme for the show was to “Honoring the Tuskegee Airman.” The VAC museum had invited all of the surviving Tuskegee Airmen to be their guests at the three-day event, to share with the airshow attendees their many WWII experiences.  Well, this was my chance, and I didn’t hesitate for a minute.

I did the research on my print, and discovered it was painted by W. S. Phillips, and actually depicted Lt. Clarence D. “Lucky” Lester in his P-51 (which he named “Miss Pelt”) shooting down his second of three German aircraft on July 18, 1944.  Reportedly, the German Luftwaffe gave these airmen the nickname, “Schwarze Vogelmenschen,” or “Black Birdmen.”


As many of the Tuskegee Airman as could manage were there, and what a thrill it was to be able to shake hands and talk with several real war heroes!  I took my “Two down and one to go” print and ask each of them to autograph it for me.  A couple of them remembered “Lucky” Lester, and told me how they recognized the different squadron planes, by the color of the trim tabs on the rudder and elevators. There was the 99th, the 100th, the 301st and the 302nd Fighter Squadrons. They each had their own specific color and/or numerical markings.




—–To Be Continued—–



2 Mar


 Judy Wills

Judy Wills


I don’t remember there being much said about earthquakes in New Mexico as I was growing up.  Many other parts of our country – and the world – had earthquakes, but not New Mexico.  It used to fascinate me how the earth would “shift” and rub against another part of earth and produce such a thing. I never thought I would be involved in an earthquake, myself.  But it did happen.  Fortunately, it wasn’t a very big quake, but it was definitely enough to shake me up just a bit.

Fred and I were living in San Jose, California at the time, probably sometime in 1966, where Fred was acquiring his degree in Meteorology from San Jose State College, in preparation for his military service.  Fred’s dad was Command Chaplain for the Air Force Logistics Command (AFLC) (headquartered in Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio) at that time.  One of his duties was to visit the chaplains and the inspect the working of their respective chapels within AFLC.  One of those was in Sacramento, California.  So, when he came to visit that AF base, he brought Fred’s mother with him, so they could visit with us as well.

Kitty and Charles Wills 1980

Kitty and Charles Wills

We drove from San Jose to Sacramento and settled down in a hotel room.  Fred’s mother and I stayed in the hotel room and visited, while Fred and his dad visited the base chapel.  I was sitting on the bed in our room – knitting a sweater as I remember – and all of a sudden, the bed began to move!  It was an up-and-down movement, and nothing strong enough to toss me off the bed or anything, but definite movement!!

The movement didn’t last very long, but we were both going “what was THAT??!!”  Turns out, it WAS a mild earthquake.

I doubt that we were on the big fault line that will “someday” break California in half and dump it into the ocean, but it certainly gave us pause.

It certainly also gave me reason to know that I am prepared – ready – to meet my death, if it is in God’s timing for me to join Him.  I’ve tried my best to rely upon Him each and every day since then, to be ready for whatever He calls me to do.

My God is such a GOOD God!  And I love him.

One of my favorite scripture passages:

 1 Chronicles 29: 10-11

David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,

“Praise be to you, O Lord, God of our father Israel,

from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power

and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.”

Our Trip to Maui~Part 1

22 Sep


Judy Wills


Let me start off by saying that, after four years of college, Fred had another 1four years of schooling at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

During that time, his father, a U.S. Air Force Chaplain, 2was stationed at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, just four hours away from us. We drove over frequently to spend a weekend with them.

After they had been in Louisiana for a few years, dad was transferred to Hawaii. As Fred’s education started coming to a close, we began to think 3about giving ourselves a graduation present by joining them in Hawaii for a visit. We were getting really excited about that prospect.

But Uncle Sam had other ideas! In January 4before Fred graduated in May, dad was promoted again and reassigned to Wright-Patterson AFB, in Dayton, Ohio. It was quite a bit of culture shock to go from tropical Hawaii to winter in Ohio in a few short weeks!

And there went our dream of a Hawaiian vacation! Shucks!

Fast forward about 39 years – boy that really zipped by, didn’t it? Fred’s parents were living in an assisted-living facility in Washington State. They had thought to make a trip to Maui for a week in a time-share owned by their youngest daughter and her husband, but needed/wanted some of the family to be with them to sort-of keep an eye on them. Since Fred and I were retired at the time, we graciously volunteered for that job. Really had to twist our arms to do that, right??!!

Two weeks before we were scheduled to depart, Fred’s mother, already afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease, had a major set-back. She was placed in the Special Care Unit of the facility, where there were trained staff to care for her.

Since Fred’s dad had been trying care for her by himself – and he was encouraged not to visit her for a few weeks so she would become adjusted to her new home – we decided to go ahead with our plans. Frankly, he needed the rest from all that stress.

So Fred and I flew to Seattle, rented a car and dropped our luggage at the hotel where we would be staying for just one night. We drove to Shelton, an hour’s drive away, and spent the rest of the day with Fred’s mother, father, sister and her husband. We three then drove back to Seattle for the night, as our flight out was quite early the next morning.

In spite of being on the West Coast, the non-stop flight was really long to Maui. We arrived at the Kahului airport in the capital of Maui.

We had arranged for a rental car, picked it up, stopped by the Costco nearby and picked up groceries for the mornings we would be there. We planned on partaking of all the wonderful island foods for lunches and dinners.


~~~~More to Come~~~~

Father Daughter Action Plan

28 Apr


Judy Wills


Father Daughter Action Plan 

That title in the Thursday newspaper reminded me of a time that our family enjoyed quite a bit.Back in the mid 1970’s, we were living on an AF Base and, because Fred was an officer, were required to be members of the Officer’s Club.  So, for the dues we had to pay for that pleasure, we thought to have a meal there at least once each month.  However, the food was less than great.

 While we were there, the club began giving out a “chit” for a free meal each month when they sent the bill, to encourage more attendance at their facility.

Well, we didn’t want to waste the “free” meal, even though we really didn’t enjoy eating there that much. But then a plan occurred to me – how about a Date Night between Father and Daughter?  Neither of the girls really had a lot of just “Daddy” time, so I thought this might be a good way for them to have some quality time with Daddy, and be treated like a lady should be treated by a gentleman.  And Fred is definitely a gentleman.  His momma taught him well!

So the plan went into action.  One supper evening each month, one of our daughters would get dressed to the nines, and would go to the O’ Club with Daddy.  He would help her into the car, pull out/push in her chair at the table, and they would just visit with each other while they ate.



The next month, the other daughter would get dressed to the nines, and go to the O’ Club with Daddy.  And she would be treated like a lady by a gentleman.




The girls loved it – they still say it is one of their fondest memories.  They would usually wear a long dress, get their hair fixed “just so,” possibly wear a “touch” of makeup, and be on their best behavior.   So each daughter had her quality time with Daddy, and Daddy got to know his girls a bit better.  Fun for all.

The remaining daughter and I would have hamburgers.


As a footnote to this:  when I told a good friend about this plan, she harumphed and said she would have to teach her husband to be a gentleman first!


16 Dec


 Judy Wills



After my husband had completed his meteorology training for the U.S. Air Force, he was assigned to an AF Weather unit in Wiesbaden, West Germany.  We were quiteexcited about the prospect of living in that country.

 I was seven months pregnant with our first child at the time we were due to depart.  There was just a short window of time that I would be able to travel/fly that far.  If I didn’t make that window, then I would have to remain state-side until after my six-weeks postpartum exam before I could join him in Germany.

Part of the problem was that my passport had not arrived yet!  So, in addition to the time we were to spend with my family in New Mexico (Fred’s family was visiting there to see his brother graduate from the University), we had to schedule a stop in DC to pick up the passport.  And it was HOT in DC in June!  We flew from there to Philadelphia for an overnight with Fred’s relatives.  Expecting to have a nice, cool, stay – we discovered they lived in a row house – without air conditioning!  We nearly melted!

However, all worked out and we flew out to Germany the next day.  We found a second-story apartment on the “economy” (military talk for non-military housing).  We had two bedrooms, and even a balcony!  The German owners lived downstairs.


The house was on Albrecht Druer Strasse. If that name is unfamiliar to you, just think of the “praying hands” sketch you’ve seen.  Albrecht Druer was the artist.



The area where we lived was quite nice.  Just down the street was a lovely park, where the two of us used to walk.  And after Karen’s birth, we walked there again, with her in the buggy.  She loved the outdoors – and the Germans we passed oohhed and aahhed over her.  There was also a church nearby that chimed the hour.

Fred’s dad retired on August 31 that year, and his parents flew over the next day to visit with us.  Our daughter made her appearance the very next day!  And how nice it was to have the grandparents right at hand to take care of us!

Our first Christmas in Germany was lovely.  Fred brought home a table-top tree, and he purchased some German ornaments, that we still have – all these 50+years later!  They aren’t fancy, but they bring back so many memories of such a wonderful time in our lives, every year as we place them on our tree.




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