Tag Archives: Military


19 Sep


Judy Wills

Back in the early 1970’s we were living in San Antonio, Texas.  Great place to live.  We really loved it there – even considered living there when Fred retired from the U.S. Air Force.  However, that was not to be.

The Alamo-San Antonio, Texas Photo credit Judy Will

We were members of the First Baptist Church in downtown San Antonio from 1971-1974.  It was an “old” church – established in 1861.  It was, at the time we were there, the 15th largest in the nation.  This sanctuary was built in 1925, and completely remodeled and modernized in 1964.  We thoroughly enjoyed that church.  The first Sunday we visited there, we walked in and the feeling was…home

First Baptist Church, San Antonio, TX – from a post card

Since it was a quite large church – somewhere around 5,000 members – it was in the Sunday School, choir, and other groups where we got to know other members.  Janet was still in nursery age, but Karen was school age and old enough to sit in the worship service.  Since Fred and I were both in the choir, I found an older couple she could sit with.  She always found her way to the choir room to meet us following the service.  

One Sunday morning, just before Sunday School started, I was sitting next to an older woman I didn’t know.  She tapped the coloring book I had on my lap (for Karen to entertain herself quietly during the service), and said, “I know how you keep yourself awake during the preaching!”  We both laughed.

I later found out that she was the Senior Pastor’s wife!!  Oops!

One of the organizations within that body of believers, was a young women’s group that we called “Friendship.”  The idea was for each of us to find one international wife who spoke very little English and bring her to the church.  I must say that the only thing “churchy” about this entire program was the prayer we said before we had refreshments.  No preaching…no church teaching…just pure love and friendship.  

We had a one-on-one hour of teaching them English via the Laubach Method of teaching English as a second language.  It is a highly successful method, and even those of us who were not fully trained, could help someone learn the language.

Following the hour of English, we would have some time with refreshments and getting to know each other.  And then we would have another hour of arts and crafts.  We had an exercise class; we had art painting, etc. My specialty was teaching crocheting.  My girls each crocheted a shawl from yarn.  Most seemed to enjoy it.

It was a lovely experience, and one I have treasured.  San Antonio, being a very “military” city, has many international women married to our military men.  Some had never had occasion to attempt to learn English – and sometimes, the U.S. military husbands didn’t necessarily want their international wives to learn English.  But it did my heart good to know we provided that service.

Judy is living in Central Florida with her retired U.S. Air Force husband of 50+ years. Born in Dallas, Texas, she grew up in the Southwestern United States.She met her husband at their church, where he was attending the university in her town. After college and seminary, he entered the Air Force, and their adventures began.They lived in eight of our United States, and spent six years in Europe, where their oldest daughter was born. She was a stay-at-home mom for many years .

  Judy has always been involved with music, both playing the piano and singing. Always interested in exercise, she was an aerobic dancing instructor, as well as a piano teacher for many years, and continues to faithfully exercise at home.

After moving to Central Florida, she served as a church secretary for nearly nine years.Her main hobby at this point in time is scanning pictures and 35mm slides into the computer. She also enjoys scrapbooking.She and her husband have two married daughters and four grandchildren, including grandtwins as well as a great-grandson. She and her husband enjoy the Disney parks as often as possible.

Random Memories of Germany-Trips to Italy-Part 3

15 Aug


Judy Wills

Last time, I made this statement:   

This sign was before we went inside [the Vatican], and unfortunately, I don’t remember what it was of – whether it was some ceilings or something else of importance to the Vatican.  And, I don’t speak or read Italian, so am not sure just what it tells.

Our oldest daughter Karen, and her husband, Brian, have made a few trips to Europe, and Rome, and this was her response to that statement:

Regarding those signs at the end, they are for the tour operators to explain all the details of the Sistine Chapel before entering, because you’re not allowed to speak once inside. We took a tour a few years ago, and our guide stood by one of those signs to point out significant parts of the ceiling’s amazing artwork so we would know what we were looking at.

My thanks to Karen for supplying that piece of information.  It has just been too many years gone since we’ve been to Rome to remember it all, and I had forgotten that we were unable to speak once inside.

In any case, on with the story:  When we made our trip in 1970, we traveled by car, since we had gone to the Oberammergau Passion Play, then on down into Italy.  We made several stops along the way.  I am not going to present this in any particular order, just showing places we stopped, both in 1970 and 1982, with our girls.  In 1982, we took a bus trip/tour from Heidelberg over the Thanksgiving holiday.

We stopped in Venice.  I don’t remember just where we stayed in 1982, but it was a hotel in Venice itself.  I remember our girls were in a room by themselves, down the hall from us.  And so, I was alarmed one night, about 2:00 a.m. when it sounded like someone was trying to break into our room!  Finally, Fred shouted that he “had the wrong room” and the drunken man apologized and moved on down the corridor.  Then I was concerned that he would try to get into the girl’s room.  But they were safe, thank goodness!

In 1970, Fred had arranged a hotel for us outside Venice itself, in Mestre.  We drove across a bridge, parked in a large parking lot, and then toured Venice on foot and with water taxi.

But Venice was fascinating:  We saw the Dodge’s Palace and the Campanile and the Stairway of the Giants (Mars on the left, Neptune on the right)

We saw the Clock Tower in St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco)

We saw the Grand Canal and the Rialto Bridge

We saw the Bridge of Sighs

We saw many gondolas – some with passengers

We took a water taxi ride – such fun!

And TONS of pigeons!!!

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

Judy is living in Central Florida with her retired U.S. Air Force husband of 50+ years. Born in Dallas, Texas, she grew up in the Southwestern United States.She met her husband at their church, where he was attending the university in her town. After college and seminary, he entered the Air Force, and their adventures began.They lived in eight of our United States, and spent six years in Europe, where their oldest daughter was born. She was a stay-at-home mom for many years .

  Judy has always been involved with music, both playing the piano and singing. Always interested in exercise, she was an aerobic dancing instructor, as well as a piano teacher for many years, and continues to faithfully exercise at home.

After moving to Central Florida, she served as a church secretary for nearly nine years.Her main hobby at this point in time is scanning pictures and 35mm slides into the computer. She also enjoys scrapbooking.She and her husband have two married daughters and four grandchildren, including grandtwins as well as a great-grandson. She and her husband enjoy the Disney parks as often as possible.

Circuitous Travel~Part 1

30 Jul


Judy Wills



Circuitous travel – I had never heard that phrase until we were about to leave Germany (1983) and return to the United States. If you aren’t familiar with that phrase, it means that you will travel from point A to point B, but not in a straight line, i.e. you will make a stop – or several stops – along the way, that are not really related to getting to your destination.

I found the following online: The Air Force defines circuitous travel as any route other than the one that would normally be prescribed by the TMF between places listed in members travel orders.

 All that information to say that, our family took advantage of circuitous travel when we left Germany and returned to the States. We took two weeks leave, and went to England.

After we had hired someone to clean our government apartment – and it was approved “clean” – we were allowed to leave Germany. We had a friend drive us to Ramstein AB (with Karen crying all the way, because she was leaving Brian behind).


Credit Google Search


We boarded a C-130 there.


Credit Google Search


It is a transport plane, and we sat knee-to-knee with each other, in canvas seats, for the time it took to fly to RAF Mildenhall, England.


Credit Google Search


We were given foam ear plugs to wear during the flight – which we really needed. That is a NOISY plane!! I made the mistake of taking one of them out of my ears, just to see how noisy it was – and regretted it immediately! It was really LOUD! So then I attempted to re-insert the foam plug into my ear – and it wouldn’t fit! So I had to endure that noise for the remainder of the flight.



About half-way through the flight, one of the flight crew came around with a cardboard box. It was filled with candy bars, and we took our pick. That was the extent of services on that flight. And that crewman didn’t look too pleased to be doing that job, either. I’m sure he would rather have been flying/navigating/etc. on that plane, rather than passing out goodies to the passengers.


aCredit Google Search and Amazon


We finally landed at RAF Mildenhall in England. Fred had arranged for a car to be delivered to us there. It was a Vauxhall, 4-door sedan, and nearly new, with just a few miles on it. It, of course, was right-hand drive, but was automatic shift. Fred hadn’t driven many stick shift vehicles in his life time, and wasn’t too keen on driving the English round-abouts with a stick shift. So we were glad to have the automatic.

By this time, it was getting rather late in the day. For some reason, Fred had not arranged for a B&B for us to stay in that night. So he began calling those in the phone book, and those the people in the terminal knew about. About the time I thought we were going to have to spent the night in the car, he was able to connect with a lady who said she would put us up, but she had to roust her children out of their beds to do so. So we finally had a bed to sleep in for that night. We had breakfast with them the next morning, and Janet had a few cats to play with and love on before we left.

Fred said it was the most expensive stay of any we had the rest of the trip. But it was worth it!



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

Honoring the Veterans of the Old Things R New Family

11 Nov

I would be surprised if any family did not have at least one veteran in their family tree. The Old Things R New family is proud to have served both in the military and as millitary spouses. I don’t have any flowery words, just thank you, with a heart filled with gratitude-Onisha


I found a war bracelt of my father’s while going through my mother’s papers. I have never seen a picture of one. Does anyone recognize it?


WWII Bracelet

WWII Bracelet

The Best Job I Ever Had~ Part1

15 Oct

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Bill Lites

Ever since I was a young boy visiting my relatives in rural Louisiana, I have been playing with fireworks. Back then we could buy fireworks year-a-round, so my cousins and I used them in every conceivable way. Of course, as I grew older, the challenge for bigger and louder projects eventually culminated, when I was a teenager, and learning how to make my own black powder. I’m not going to tell you what all kinds of projects my teenage friends and I used that black powder for, but then maybe you have an idea of how mischievous young boys can be. What finally cured me of playing with the black powder was when I tried to use it to fuel a model rocket (that didn’t work well, and luckily I still have all 10 fingers).


After my stent in the US Navy (one of the best character builders there is), I went to college in Los Angeles where I met my future Aerospace supervisor. My first job with him was as a Hydraulics/Pneumatics Engineer in the company’s Test Group. That was a great job where I learned many of the basics of being a test engineer. The company’s work load was building up about that time, and it wasn’t long before a position opened up in the Test Group for an Ordnance Test Engineer. I must have been in the right place at the right time, because the next thing I knew that was my new title. After much schooling, the Ordnance Technicians taught me the safety procedures and rules for the handling and testing of explosive devices, and I was on my way to enjoying “The Best Job I Ever Had.”


What was so great about this job was that my responsibility covered the testing of any Ordnance Test Specimen from beginning to end. The Test Group performed testing for the Apollo Spacecraft Engineering group, as well as the Second Stage Booster Engineering Group, both of which were for the Apollo Space Program’s Saturn V launch vehicle. The respective Ordnance Design Engineer would write up a test requirement plan for his system specimen and submit it to the Test Group. As an Ordnance Test Engineer, I would estimate how many man-hours it would take for the Test Group to test the system specimen in all the different parameters (high temp, low temp, vibration, etc.). That included the time necessary to design and have built any test fixtures required for the various tests, support personnel (photographers, etc.) and equipment required (high speed cameras, cranes, etc.).



I would then submit this estimate to the Ordnance Design Engineer, and, if he agreed that I had covered all of his requirements in my estimate, he would get the necessary monetary approval from the company’s Engineering Department.   It was then up to me to establish a testing work schedule to perform all the specified test requirements in a timely manner and within the estimated budget.

—–To Be Continued—–

How We Met~Part 2

12 Oct



Let me add a bit of Fred’s history here. He is the oldest of four children in his family.

His father had been in World War 2 as a Chaplain, after being through seminary and pastorate. When the Army Air Corps decided to break apart and the Air Force became its own entity, his dad went with the AF rather than Army. So the family moved around quite a bit – not only in the States, but also had a tour in Italy after the war.

When Fred was in high school, his dad was sent to Japan.


The family followed, but it took a while. The year they moved, Fred went to three different high schools! (In his public school years, he went to 23 different schools!) They started in Panama City, Florida, then moved to Danville, California (near Walnut Creek) for a while, then on to Japan. He was ticked that the California school he was in – San Ramon Valley Union High School – which was supposed to be top-of-the-line at that time, didn’t offer either Latin or advanced Algebra – both of which he’d studied in Florida. The California schools also didn’t want to let him take upper-level American history (a junior course, and he was just a sophomore), saying that he couldn’t possibly be ready for that class. His father convinced them to let him take a test to measure his level – and he aced the test! In any case, they were there only a few months before the move to Japan.

Fred’s sisters told me later that he went straight from age 12 to 20! He apparently got serious about his studies and girls just fell by the wayside! I guess it was a good thing, since he was Valedictorian of his high school graduating class in Japan! None of that moving around stunted his brain power, it seems. He actually said it was an education within itself, and he was grateful for that opportunity.


Because of his grade average, he had applied to – and been accepted by and had a line number for – four universities: Purdue, Florida State, the University of Illinois, and Washington State. He just hadn’t made his choice yet.

Fred had always had a bit of a problem with hay fever, but it got worse while he was in Japan. He was talking with the librarian in his high school on Johnson AFB, Japan, one day. She was from Albuquerque, and she suggested that the dry climate in New Mexico might actually be good for his hay fever. So, late in June that year, he applied for admission to the University of New Mexico – and was accepted.

And that’s how he came to be in Albuquerque. God just brought him there for us to meet. Isn’t it amazing how God works things out?


For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.     Jeremiah 29:11






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

Transition to Maine~Part 6

14 Sep


Judy Wills



 Our youngest daughter, Janet, was born in Maine – our little Maineiac.


It was early morning, and we had arranged for Karen to stay with a neighbor several doors down. After Fred took her there, he called the base hospital to see if he should go to work or come stay through the labor and delivery with me. (The hospital in Germany, where Karen was born, was very progressive for that time – they allowed the husbands in the delivery room. We had anticipated cajoling the delivery doctor at Loring into letting Fred be in the delivery room with Janet’s delivery, since he had already participated in one, and not passed out!) The answer he received really shocked him – Sir, your baby is already delivered! But they didn’t tell him whether it was a boy or girl – they left it up to me. But neither they nor he told me that, until after he had been there about 30 minutes. He looked at me and asked – so what do we have? So I got to inform him he had another daughter, Janet Lynn.

While Janet and I were still in the hospital (remember – back in those days the average stay for a new baby and mother was three-to-four days!), Fred came to visit every day.

The day after Janet was born, he came to visit, plopped down in the chair, grinned at me and said, “You didn’t really want to spend another winter here, did you?” I nearly jumped out of the bed as I exclaimed….”YOU GOT ORDERS?” Since neither of us had been terribly thrilled being in northern Maine, Fred had been inquiring about being reassigned. The answer he usually received was, “Sir, you have three more years here before we’ll even consider transferring you.” But, apparently the AF needed instructors for their officer’s school in San Antonio, Texas more than they needed meteorologists at Loring AFB, and he had been given his walking orders. We were beyond excited!

Months later, as we were getting ready to depart for warmer climes, I attended an Officers Wives Club luncheon, where the Base Commander’s wife was issuing goodbyes to those leaving. It was amusing to hear her say, “….is heading to….AFB, south from here. And …..is heading to AFB,…. south from here. Well! I just realized that ANYwhere is south from here!”

Our church had a picnic in August before we left. It was great fun, and a great way to say goodbye to those we had come to love in Christ. There was the usual picnic stuff going on – softball, hot dogs, horseshoes, etc.


And there was this really…REALLY…tall slide that Karen absolutely LOVED going down. My heart was in my throat every time she climbed up and slid down, but she had a blast!


And so, we left northern Maine and Loring AFB in late August, heading south. We were wearing sweaters at the time, as it was getting cold already. We arrived in Pennsylvania, to spend some time with Fred’s parents, and were back to wearing shorts. What a difference!


And so ends our Transition to Maine. Thank goodness it was only 13 months long!



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~~~~~~

Transition to Maine~Part 3

24 Aug


Judy Wills



In addition to setting up house at Loring AFB, we started looking for a church home. There weren’t very many Southern Baptist Churches in that area – actually only one – so we scoped it out. They didn’t have their own building, and were meeting in the Odd Fellows hall in Caribou. It wasn’t ideal, especially on the Sundays after the Odd Fellows had been having a party on Saturday night with beer flowing freely. We frequently had to clean up the hall before we could hold our services on Sunday. (Fred and I were only in Maine for 13 months, and after we left, the church rented space on Sundays from the Knights of Columbus. Several years after that, they built their own building). However, the church was strong and the fellowship was tremendous. One of the best things we found in the churches we were in that had a large military membership – the rank came off when we walked through the door. We were all just fellow believers in Christ. We met many people there who became good friends, and some we’ve even retained contact with throughout the years. We’ve also had the pleasure of meeting up with them when they have come down to Orlando for their time at Disney. That’s such a joy!




The Weather Detachment that Fred was assigned to was a fairly cohesive group, as well. He started in working right away. Loring AFB was a first-defense base with bombers, aerial refueling and interceptor aircraft stationed there. One section of the base was on constant alert. Loring was the closest U.S. base to Europe and U.S.S.R.

Loring AFB was named in 1954 posthumously for Major Charles J. Loring, Jr., USAF, a Medal of Honor recipient during the Korean War. During the morning of 22 November 1952, he led a flight of F-80 Shooting Stars on patrol over Kunwha. After beginning a dive bombing run and getting hit, he entered into a controlled dive and destroyed a Chinese gun emplacement on Sniper Ridge which was harassing United Nations troops, by deliberately crashing his aircraft into the emplacement.


Public schools in Aroostock County started in August. They were in session for three weeks then broke for two or three weeks for the potato harvest. Local farmers hired students and airmen looking for some extra money to help with the harvest. Then school resumed.

There was only pre-kindergarten through elementary grades on base – other grades/schools are in town. Karen was able to attend a part-time pre-k there. She got to ride a bus to school and was thrilled. Unfortunately, Fred and I were in tears to see her go!

Transition to Maine~Part 2

17 Aug


Judy Wills


Finally assigned quarters on the base (Loring AFB), we began the process of arranging our lives to this new place. We lived in a two-story row house (18 “houses” or apartments, within each row – directly across from another set of row houses), and ours had been added on – giving us a half-bath and a laundry room downstairs, right off the kitchen. We considered ourselves fortunate for that addition – the houses on either side of us did not have the add-on, and the only bathroom was upstairs.

The base housing was not in very good repair – especially on the outside, and was scheduled for refurbishment the summer we arrived. Here are some before and after pictures.



The military had contracted with a Canadian company to do the work. Nothing wrong with that – except they were on Atlantic time, and arrived about 6:00 a.m. local time. We kept hearing stories about people asleep in their upstairs apartment, awakened to find Canadian faces looking in their windows!   We made sure we had the windows covered.

Of course, just covering the windows didn’t help with the sound. They were removing the old siding in preparation for new siding. It looked really nice when they were done, but BOY! was it loud in the mean time!

Since we had only been able to ship 2,000 pounds to Germany, we had left a lot of our household goods at my mother’s house in New Mexico. Now was the time to collect everything that was ours, and start using it all. So we had to find a place for all the china, crystal and sterling we had been given as wedding presents. The apartment was partially furnished, so we only had to purchase a minimum of furniture. We were furnished a dining room table and chairs, sideboard and two beds. Fred built a “hutch” for the sideboard, and we stored the crystal there.

We purchased a sofa (110″ long) in electric blue, with a matching high-back swivel rocker. We also purchased a 12′ X 15′ rug to go in the living room. It was such fun arranging all that stuff.


Fred’s parents and an aunt and uncle arrived the middle of October, hoping to see all the gorgeous fall colors – but they were about a month too late. Fall hits in early September in northern Maine. But we had a nice visit with them, anyway, taking them to our favorite restaurant in Canada, York’s. York’s had a set menu – only five items. But they had corn fritters the size of a baseball, served with real maple syrup – as many as you wanted to eat. You could have one serving of any of the five entrees, and if you were still hungry, you could have a half-order of anything except the steak. I really learned to love lobster there! And what was neat was that they split the lobster in half, and all you had to do was pick out the meat! No cracking there! Unfortunately, they closed down mid-October and didn’t open again until Mother’s Day. The roads were just too impassable, so they had no customers.



~~~~~~~~~~To be continued~~~~~~~~~~~

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