Tag Archives: Military Wives

My Husband…My Hero

21 Sep


Judy Wills


After the birth of our second child in 1971, we moved from Loring AFB, Maine, to San Antonio, Texas, where Fred would become an instructor at the Officer Training School (OTS) at Lackland AFB. Since our marriage, we had always lived in either apartments or government quarters. We felt it was time to own our first home. So we began looking at houses not too far from Lackland.

We didn’t actually have a realtor, but kept seeing signs for “Ray Ellison Homes” all around that area, so we checked them out. There was a subdivision of new homes there – within our price range – and we found one we liked. It wasn’t terribly large, but it had three bedrooms and TWO BATHROOMS!! WOW! We snapped it up.


The bedroom windows in this house were high and long – narrow. They were high enough that we could hang a picture above our bed (no headboard). One night in 1972, about 2:00 a.m., we both were awakened by a bright light. We got up and looked out our bedroom window – and saw flames roaring from the garage in the house next to us! It took us a few seconds to recognize what was happening, then we swung into action. I called the fire department, then ran to get the girls. I was in such a state that I forgot to bring extra diapers for Janet! The firemen told us we had to leave the house, so we went to the neighbor’s house across the street.

In the meantime, Fred ran next door to the burning house. He began ringing the doorbell and pounding on the door. I heard him yelling “FIRE” several times. He woke them up. To his amazement – they ran back into the house to get “stuff” before leaving. They told us later that, while they usually left their bedroom doors open at night, they had each closed their doors that particular night, and so didn’t know their house was on fire.


None of the family members were injured in the fire, while the entire house was destroyed. Fred suffered some burns on his forehead from blowing embers. After rousing the house members, he grabbed our garden hose and began spraying the side of our house, trying to save it from as much damage as possible. Some of our windows shattered, but we had the blinds closed, and so the shards were contained mostly in the carpet. We had about $500 damage to our house, including the soft water tank on that side of the house. But Culligan came and replaced it with no charge to us.


It took until after daybreak for the fire to be under control. We were amused to see that some of the neighbors came out to retrieve their newspapers and found fire trucks and hoses in the street! They hadn’t heard or seen anything during the night! Heavy sleepers, huh?

I volunteered to help do some salvage. What amazed me was in the kitchen – the door of the dishwasher was completely mangled and warped. But under the top cabinets hung a roll of paper towels, completely untouched by the fire!

Two years later, the house on the OTHER side of us caught fire in the early morning. And we learned that, after we left San Antonio, the house two doors down from THAT one burned. Seems like it skipped every other house. We’re just glad ours was one of the “skipped” ones!

But Fred is my hero – thinking of the neighbors as he did.


Transition to Maine~Part 5

8 Sep


Judy Wills



Winter humidity in Maine is so dry/non-existent, that we had to have a humidifier running inside the house all winter.  Otherwise, the furniture would come apart, and the glue in the picture frames would dry up and the frames would fall apart.  We purchased a new one when we arrived, and sold it when we left.

It was so cold and dry during the winter, that I wrote to family and friends that “when you go outside, and the moisture in your nose freezes, you KNOW it’s cold!”

Fred was able to get off time at Christmas, so we drove to King of Prussia, Pennsylvania to spend it with his parents.




It was a long drive, but it was nice to get back to “civilization.”  While it was still cold in PA, it was almost a relief to have “normal” cold rather than the bitter cold of Maine.

We held a going-away party at our house for the departing Commander of the Weather Detachment.  Most of the unit attended, including spouses.  While in Germany we had some reel-to-reel tapes of instrumental music made, and since they were long-playing, we just let them play during the party.  The Commander got up and gave his goodbye speech.  There was a pause – in the music as well as in his speech.  When he started up again, he started with “I just want to thank you all….”  At the same instant, the music began again, and it happened to be Bob Hope’s theme song Thanks for the Memories.  I couldn’t have timed it better if I had planned it!  One of the other officers there was also a musician, and we looked at each other and grinned – we both caught the significance of it.

After the departure of the Commander, Fred became the unit Commander, serving in that capacity for the remainder of our time there.

Our little church was without a pastor when we arrived.  Several of the men in the church would take turns preaching – including Fred.  There was a small choir.  In spite of it all, the spirit of the congregation was good, and we had a good fellowship, and were able to worship our Lord and Savior.  While we were there, the church called a pastor.  Turns out, his wife was a Maine native, and they were eager to return to the state.  God used him greatly in that place – and he stayed as pastor for 20 years, until his retirement.  We have since learned that the government has closed Loring AFB, and that impacted the church as well.  We knew they had been reaching out to the local communities, in hopes of having a lasting congregation if….when….the base closed.  We don’t know, currently, how it is faring.

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

Transition to Maine~Part 4

31 Aug


Judy Wills


Winter arrived with a vengeance in northern Maine!  Early in October it started snowing, and we didn’t think it would ever stop.  Actually, that year (1970-1971) we had 156″ of snow.  It was piled up to the bottom of the windows for seven – yes I said SEVEN (7) – months.  We had a blizzard on April 1st.  As it happened, I was pregnant at the time and was outside going from the car to the house, when I slipped and fell.  I furiously told Fred that “anywhere else we would be it would be RAINING!  But here it is SNOWING!”  I was NOT a happy camper


One fun thing is that Karen’s memory of living in base housing is that we were completely snowed in!  Fortunately, that wasn’t the case – it’s just that her bedroom window overlooked the back stoop, and IT was covered in deep snow.


We had so much snow that the housing members (that was us) had to dig a “tunnel” to walk through – especially in the back of the row house.


The base had to keep the runway clear for emergencies, so that was the first thing plowed.  Second were the roads on the base.  Third was the housing areas, and fourth were the garage areas within the housing area.  That didn’t get done very often, so we usually just parked on the street.  Of course, then you ran the risk of getting your car covered in plowed snow.


The garage areas were also in a “row,” and had the capability of hooking up the engine block to a heater, so the vehicle would be more apt to start on a cold morning.  Unfortunately, they were in such sad shape that, while we were there, one of those garage units caught fire – and the entire garage row was completely burned to the ground in five minutes!  The fire department didn’t even arrive in time to salvage any of the building.


A few interesting facts:

1.  All the farmers in the area had snow plows that they attached to their tractors, and helped to keep the roads clear.

2.  Fred purchased studded snow tires, had them mounted on wheels, and just changed out the entire wheel when the snow began to fall in earnest.  He was able to sell them when we were ready to move.

3.  In January, the high for the month was 4̊ below zero!  When in February it got to 25̊ above zero, we thought it was a heat wave and people were running around in shirt sleeves!

4.  While it was still cold, some of the tenants of the row houses would flood the area between the row houses and make a skating rink.  Some would even run their snowmobiles there.


There were a lot of complaints about Maine.  We knew a lot of pilots who volunteered for a second or third tour in Vietnam just to get away from Loring.  Unfortunately, the AF usually sent them right back to Loring after those assignments.  The AF lost a lot of good pilots that way, as they left the military.

There was one man in Fred’s unit who was a Maine native and really loved his assignment there.  He kept requesting to stay, but they kept sending him places like Turkey and Italy and such like.  We kept saying why didn’t the AF just let him stay there, and let us go somewhere warm??!!

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

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.



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