Tag Archives: Military Life

Memorial Day Memories

28 May


Judy Wills




Tomorrow is Memorial Day 2017.

Credit Google Search and Time Magazine

I know I’ve mentioned before that I am fiercely patriotic about my country. I’ve had the great privilege of being born and growing up in the United States of America.   I’ve also had the privilege of living in another country. It was such a lesson to see how other countries view the U.S.

My brother, Bill, enlisted in the Navy right out of high school. I remember a time when he was shipped overseas, and I became afraid for him. But he came home, safe and sound.

And then I met the man who would become my husband – and the love of my life. Fred’s father was a Chaplain in the U.S. Air Force. And even though I became more interested in the military at that point – because of Fred’s Dad – it wasn’t until Fred joined the U.S. Air Force himself that my interest became intense. I had not ever really envisioned what military life was all about.

I’ve seen advertisements for t-shirts that state that the military person was one who, at some point in their lives, signed a blank check to the U.S. Government, up to and including their lives.

And that brings us to Memorial Day. I’ve not had a family member die in battle. My heart cries for those who have had that happen. But I do have a family history of military service.

My Dad – I didn’t know for quite a few years, that my Dad served with the U.S. Army in World War 1. He was in the medical corps, and served in France.



My brother served in the U.S. Navy – active duty for four years, then more in the reserves. He was stationed on board ships in the Mediterranean and in Japan.



Bill Lites


My husband served for over 22 years in the U.S. Air Force as a meteorologist. He served in six states and twice in West Germany.



My father-in-law served in the U.S. Army – later in the U.S. Air Force – for over 28 years as a Chaplain. He served all over the world. In 1943 he was wounded in the invasion of Sicily, by shrapnel from a German mortar. He carried the quarter-size piece of shrapnel in his body, too near his heart to be removed, for over 66 years.



My brother-in-law – Fred’s brother – served in the U.S. Air Force as a Chaplain for 20 years.



All-in-all, that adds up to nearly 80 years of service to this country by my family members. And it was all done voluntarily.

All of these men are veterans. And that marks the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

Memorial Day honors those who gave their lives defending this country. They are the ones who, when they signed that blank check to the U.S. Government, actually gave up their lives for freedom.

And that’s the crux of this:   it is our military that has given us our freedom – not the politicians in Washington D.C. As a matter of fact, I think that service in our nation’s military should be a prerequisite for holding government office.

I would like to honor the memory of all those who have died for the cause of freedom. Outside of the cause for Christ….there is no other greater.




Credit Google Search and clipart panda


May God 🇺🇸 bless America!





Marti Gras-German Style

5 Mar


Judy Wills



 Now that the Pre-Easter time is upon us, I want to share a memory with you.

We were blest with being able to live in West Germany for a total of six years. We spent three years in Wiesbaden, then 10 years later, we returned to Germany for another three years in Heidelberg.   Both tours of duty were precious to us. God gave us the opportunity to live in a country that wasn’t our native land, to see the beauty of other parts of the world, and to know another culture. I wish every American citizen could have that experience – to see the United States from the viewpoint of other countries. It certainly helped us to see what a wonderful and free country we live in.

One memory has stayed with us, that is a most fun memory. Our first Easter-time in Heidelberg came, and we learned of a Marti Gras parade planned for downtown Heidelberg, along the fussganger (literally foot street – no vehicles allowed). The girls and I wanted to attend, but Fred was unable to get away from his job.

We actually lived not too far from downtown, but had planned to take the local bus down. We started out walking, but every time we saw a bus approaching, it was absolutely packed with people, and driver just shook his head at us. So we eventually walked our way downtown.

There had been a few rumors that, if the U.S. military band marched in the parade, as planned, reprisals against them would happen. It made us a bit apprehensive, but then decided to go, anyway. As it turned out – no mishaps, and we were grateful.



Credit Google Search

We found a spot on the sidewalk and planted ourselves there. As it turned out, there was a tiny German grandmother standing just in front of us. She probably didn’t reach my shoulders, even with her sensible heeled shoes on. She walked with and supported herself with a cane. We found it amusing that, when some teenage girls tried to stand in front of her, she poked them with her cane and told them to “get lost” (my words). They moved!

And then the parade started. It was a fun-filled parade, and we enjoyed the floats – and the U.S. military band – very much. Those on the floats would throw candy out along their way. I encouraged our girls to pick up what they could (each piece was wrapped). And then this sweet little lady would look at our girls and point out – with her cane – pieces of candy they had missed. When I suggested they offer some to her, and they did, she just smiled and shook her head.


2Credit Google Search and Dreamstime

I guess one of the most fun things that happened, was when the parade had slowed down (as parades happen to do occasionally), and one of the men on the float in front of us jumped off, came over to the little lady, took her chin in his hand and said “Oma!” – that’s German for “Granny!” She ducked her head, turned to us slightly, and just blushed with a grin on her face! It was adorable.

As the parade was finishing and the crowd began to disperse, we thanked her with our limited German. She just made the experience for us.

What a wonderful memory. Both of our daughters remember that experience, and we treasure it.

Here are some definitions to help you out:

Fasching: pre-Lenten festivities celebrated in grand style in mostly the predominantly catholic regions of the German-speaking countries.

Fasching is Germany’s carnival season. It starts on the 11th day of November at exactly 11minutes after 11am and ends at the stroke of midnight on Shroud Tuesday – often referred to as Fat Tuesday (the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday).

Out in the Cold

18 Dec


Judy Wills

I was a stay-at-home mom for over 20 years while my husband, Fred, was active duty in the U.S. Air Force. I had worked in an office setting all the years before, but once our daughters started to arrive, we decided we could live on one salary – and we did.



Credit Google search


However, once Fred retired from the Air Force, jobs were difficult for him to find, so I considered dusting off my typing skills and look for a job for myself.

I thought that I would try temp work first, just to get my hand back in the work environment. So I contacted Kelly Girls (now Kelly Services) – and they essentially told me that they didn’t want me. Big blow to my ego. So the next step was Manpower. And they welcomed me with open arms.


Credit Google search

I took a typing test at their facility – and we were all amazed that I still was typing about 70+ correct words per minute!

The first office where they placed me was with the Colonial Williamsburg mail-order center. I was mainly there to file, but at least it was a job.



Credit Google Search

I found it rather interesting, and became quite impressed with the quality of product they shipped. My Aunt Jessie was an antique nut, so one time I sent her a catalog of all the furniture that CW had – but without the price list! I just wanted her to enjoy looking at all that beautiful, re-created furniture.

At that point in time, we were existing with one car, so Fred usually drove me to work and picked me up after. I went to work one morning, with a weather report of an ice storm approaching. By about 10:00 a.m., the storm hit, and all the employees were told to head home. I tried time and again to reach Fred by phone (we had no cell phones at that time in our lives), but he never answered. I had determined to wait outside the main gate until he came to get me. However, when the maintenance guy found me about the head out into the storm (in high heeled shoes and a puny coat – no raincoat or gloves or hat), he insisted that we wait inside until Fred arrived.



Credit Google Search

We waited for about 45 minutes before Fred finally called. He said he had been sitting on the “parking lot” of U.S. 17 for all that time, and was just finally able to pull off in Yorktown to call (that’s only about eight miles from our house!). So I told him to get on the Colonial Parkway and come up to Virginia Route-199.



Credit Google Search

There was a hotel there, not far from where I was working, and I would wait there for him.   That allowed the maintenance guy to lock up and head to his own home, and Fred wouldn’t have to drive all the way into Williamsburg for me.

And so we did. He dropped me off and headed home, while I went inside and got a cup of coffee. I paid $2.50 for that cup of coffee – and I don’t really like coffee!!

The next work day (two days later), I picked up a cheese tray to take to the maintenance guy as a thank-you, and for his family for waiting for him.

It’s a memory that has stayed with me. God certainly had me in His hands during that situation, and I’m grateful.


Treasures from Germany~Part 7

11 Dec


Judy Wills


In this final Treasures from Germany series, I want to share some precious items we found in Germany. Once again, as with the Kaiser porcelain, we had not heard of Swarovski crystal until we returned to Germany for our second tour of duty there (1980-1983). We were enthralled with the beauty of it! And while each piece was relatively inexpensive at our U.S. base exchange, we found them to be almost half price at the Canadian exchange in Baden Solingen. We happened to be there once with Fred’s parents, and our daughters, and I had to borrow some Deutchmarks from my Father-in-law in order to purchase the ones I wanted. And I did pay him back!

I actually purchased some for myself, as well as duplicates for our girls, so they each have a set of their own. I suppose they can distribute ours to our grandchildren, when the time comes.





I found some lotus blossom candle holders that I really like, but I can’t use U.S. candles in them. They are made for European candles, which are thinner-based. So they sit on a shelf and look pretty. That’s okay with me.




When we were in Germany, we traveled quite a bit. One of the places we went, was Innsbruck, Austria. The Swarovski factory is there, and we thought to pick up some “seconds.” However, when we asked about “seconds,” the saleslady informed us that they had NO “seconds.” If there is a flaw in the product, they just re-fire it and make something new. Well, shucks! That really put a damper on our outing!

Fred’s parents came to visit us in Germany each year we were there. During our first tour, Fred’s Dad was involved with the gathering of Baptists in Bertchgarden, in Bavaria, and we joined them there. We all stayed in the General Walker Hotel at the top of a small mountain at the end of a steep drive. The large facility was delightful (formerly used by the Nazi’s – named the Platterhof). There were restaurants and shops within the main building.



Credit Google search


Fred’s mother found this beautiful crystal three-sided obelisk. Each side has a different Christian symbol carved on it. Here they are:


Of course, I was taken with the obelisk as well, and purchased one for myself. When Fred’s mother died, I inherited her obelisk, which I have given to one of our daughters. When I die, the other daughter will get mine. I think it’s beautiful.

While we probably have many other “treasures” from Germany, these that I have shared with you are the ones most prominent in our memory. I hope you have enjoyed our journey. It was been a pleasure for me to see these treasures through new eyes, and has brought back the memory of acquiring each one.

God has been so gracious to us allowing us to live in that wonderful country for a total of six years. It was a terrific experience, and one I never dreamed I would have. God is good.

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected

if it is received with thanksgiving,


1 Timothy 4:4


Treasures From Germany~Part 6

4 Dec


Judy Wills


During our first tour in Germany (1967-1970), we picked up this etching of the cathedral in Cologne (Köln), but just never had it framed.


6 1


Then I remembered a frame that I had of a chalk “painting” of my Aunt Jessie that was in a wonderful old frame. I had her picture removed (sorry Jessie), and the etching placed in the frame. The etching gives the feeling of “old” or “antique,” and to me suits this frame just right. It hangs in a place of honor in our family room, and we look at it often. We were able to visit the cathedral many times during our two tours of duty in Germany, and we also were able to see it again on our Viking River Cruise a year ago. Here are some current pictures of it.


We thoroughly enjoyed all the traveling around Europe that we did during our stays in Germany. One of our favorite old cities to visit, was the town of Mickelstadt. It wasn’t too far from Heidelberg, and we visited often. Here is a watercolor of that town that we enjoy. Brings back so many good memories.




When we lived in Wiesbaden, we would occasionally have “vendors” come to our stairwell door with goods they wanted us to purchase. Neither Fred nor I am very good at “haggling,” and when the artist approached us with this windmill painting, we said we just couldn’t afford it.




We thought that was the end of it, but she lowered the price. Again, we declined. And then she made her final offer – saying it was the rock-bottom price she would go. I looked at Fred, and we agreed that $35 for an original oil, framed, wouldn’t break the bank. So we bought it. Didn’t realize we had that knack for haggling! We purchased the two prints of Paris scenes somewhere along the way, and added them to the Holland painting. The colors go fairly well together, we think.

One more thing that we picked up while in Germany, was a page, copied, from a page of the Gutenberg Bible. For many years, it just sat, rolled up, on a shelf. I finally had it framed to hang in Fred’s office. The “antique” look to the frame seems to match the page from that original Bible. The smaller frame holds the description of the page. We had it translated, and it says: The 42-line Bible was printed between 1452 and 1455 by the inventor of the printer in Mainz (Germany). The original of this book is found in the Mainz Gutenberg-Museum. This arrangement now hangs in our guest bedroom.




~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~





An Anniversary with a Thanksgiving

20 Nov


Judy Wills



This Thanksgiving week marks an anniversary of sorts for Fred and me. 21 years ago, on a Tuesday, we left Virginia, our home for nearly 13 years,




and drove down to Orlando, Florida. On that next day, Wednesday, we signed the papers for our new house in Kissimmee, obtained the keys for the house, drove to our new house and unloaded all the stuff we had packed in the car for the trip.

From there, we drove over to Titusville to spend the night with my brother and sister-in-law, since we had no furniture in our new house.

The next day was Thanksgiving, 1995. We celebrated that day with my brother and sister-in-law, their daughter and her husband, and her husband’s family.




We will always cherish the memory of that time – that everyone opened their homes and hearts to us on such short notice. After a few weeks of sorting, disposing of stuff we had managed to collect after 13 years of living in one place, and cleaning the house, it was quite nice not to have to do anything but enjoy a good meal, and have wonderful fellowship with those around us that we love.

And so we remember the 21st anniversary of our arrival in Florida, along with our first Thanksgiving here, and the love that was just showered upon us.

And after that wonderful meal and a good night’s rest, we were up early on that Friday and drove back to Kissimmee in time to meet the moving truck with all our household goods. So we got to work setting our house in order.




We are so thankful….and this is the week to express that thanks.

I found this pilgrim couple a few years ago, and they have decorated our Thanksgiving table ever since. I think they’re cute.




A friend did a macramé pilgrim for me some years ago. He proudly welcomes any and all to our door this time each year. I love his bushy beard!!









Courtesy Google Search

Treasures From Germany~Part 4

13 Nov


Judy Wills



There were several things that interested us while we were in Germany. All those years before that we lived in Wiesbaden (1967-1970) , we had never heard of the Kaiser company (founded 1872..became Kaiser in 1928) that produced porcelain figurines. But when we arrived in Heidelberg (1980-1983), that was the rage – to have some figurines by Kaiser. We found several that we liked and purchased them for ourselves. And some we purchased for our family. For instance, my Aunt Jessie loved dogs, and especially poodles. So we purchased this poodle for her. Following her death, I reclaimed it.




And this little Scottie just took my fancy – he’s got such a happy expression, don’t you think?



These dolphins reached out to me, so I purchased them. Kaiser had several different versions of the dolphins. I liked the two set best. Some were glazed (shiny) but I liked the unglazed better.



I think this squirrel is quite the cutie.



But this little bunny rabbit looks so much like Thumper from the Disney movie Bambi®, that I had to have him in my collection! He’s adorable!!



We have a couple of nudies that appealed to us, and here they are.


I don’t have pictures of them, but my Aunt Jessie had several Kaiser figurines of gymnasts. Our Janet has them now, as she was quite interested in being a gymnast herself. They are quite delicate and beautiful.

Our Karen has a Mother and Child figurine, and a running horse with her colt – all made by Kaiser. Here they are in a picture of them on her fireplace mantle.




As you can see, all of those Kaiser figurines are white bisque. While we saw many of the same figurines that had been painted, for some reason, I liked the plain white much better. However, there was one figurine that we purchased that couldn’t be anything but painted. It is so delicate and beautiful, and we treasure it.




Another type of figurine that caught our attention was those made by Lladro (Spanish pronunciation – yah’ – drow). Many of their “human” figurines are rather grotesquely elongated – definitely not proportioned, and did not appeal to us at all. However, the figurines they made of animals were something that did appeal to us. My family purchased them for me and gave them to me as Christmas presents two different years. I enjoy them so much, and am thankful to have them. They were rather expensive, even in Germany.

One other figurine type we purchased while we were in Wiesbaden, and have enjoyed them all these years. They are Dresden “musical angels,” with each one having a different musical instrument. Two seem to be the same, but after looking closely, you will see that one is praying for her sister instrumentalists (far right – hands closer together), while the other one is directing the music (far left – hands more apart). I have treasured these figurines for over 40 years.




~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~

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