Tag Archives: Military

Circuitous Travel~Part 1

30 Jul

SUNDAY MEMORIES

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).

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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.”

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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.).

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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

SUNDAY MEMORIES

JUDY

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.

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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.

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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

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

JUDY

 

 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!

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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

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

JUDY

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

JUDY

 

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!

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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.

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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

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

JUDY

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.

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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~~~~~~~~~~~

Transition to Maine~Part 1

3 Aug

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

JUDY

                                        

                                                           

In previous musings, I’ve mentioned how we were assigned to Loring AFB, Maine (Do you think if we ask for New Mexico, they’ll send us to Maine??). And they did.

Our Karen was born in Wiesbaden, West Germany, and was not quite three-years-old when we rotated stateside. That was an eight-hour flight back to the States, so I had purchased a few “new” toys that I hadn’t let her play with, just to keep her occupied on the plane trip. As we took off and began the long flight, I glanced at her and saw her eyes closing. And I exclaimed – “Oh no you don’t!” – and brought out some of the toys. Those eyes instantly popped open. We had a set of little books – about 3½” by 4″ – just kid-hand-sized, with about six books in there. Wish I had kept them. We had a blow-up doggie that we deflated before landing. You get the picture. We played/read for a while, then they brought lunch. After we ate, Fred and I put up the arm rests between our seats, and Karen stretched out across our laps for her nap. Fred and I slept for a couple of hours each before Karen woke up. Perfect timing.

Fred’s parents were living in King of Prussia, PA at the time, and picked us up from the airport at McGuire AFB, NJ and took us to their house. We stayed a few days with them, then flew to New Mexico for a visit with my mom, grandmother and Aunt Jessie.

Karen and "Oma" - her grandmother

Karen and “Oma” – her grandmother

 

 

Four Generations

Four Generations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we flew to Detroit, MI to pick up the new car we had ordered, then off to Fred’s sister’s house for a few days. She and her husband had a little boy, just one year younger than our Karen. They had a grand time together.

From there we drove up to Loring AFB, Maine. It was July, and we caught the “two weeks of summer” right away. We learned about the black flies that make their appearance in Maine during that time. They were really pesky! We stayed in a furnished guest house while awaiting assignment of quarters. While there we ordered some furniture from a local store, since we had been living in furnished government quarters for the three years in Germany.We learned that we were living in Aroostock County, which is a Native American word for Beautiful River.

 

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What surprised us the most was that Aroostock County is one of the largest potato producing areas in the country (Idaho and Wyoming being in that mix). It is also the largest county – land area – east of the Mississippi River. We were nearly on the upper tip of the state, only three miles from the Canadian border, and the nearest town was Limestone, with Caribou being the closest “large” town. We were four hours driving time north of Bangor, and that was on the interstate – which was a two-lane road! The County Seat is Houlton. You might remember that from all the weather reports in winter that pronounce it to be the coldest spot in the U.S.

An Amazing Surprise~Part 2

29 Jun

SUNDAY MEMORIES

 Judy Wills

JUDY

A few years after we arrived in Virginia, as Christmas was approaching, the wives of the officers were invited to help make up cookie bags for the enlisted personnel who were stationed at that Air Force Base, but would be alone and working over the holiday – unable to go to their respective homes.  We were asked to bake about six dozen cookies (or more), and then bring them to a certain place on a certain day, and a bunch of women would make an assortment and bag them up.  That was something I enjoyed doing, so I set to work.

When the appointed day and time arrived, I went to the assigned place.  As we were working (I didn’t know anyone else there – we were just a bunch of wives working together), one of the women looked at me and said, “Judy, are you by chance from Albuquerque?”  A bit startled, I told her yes.  And then she proceeded to ask if I had gone to Highland High School in Albuquerque.  Again I said yes.

 

 

Then I asked her what her name was.  When she told me her maiden name, I literally had a jaw-dropping moment!  This woman had not only grown up in Albuquerque, but she had lived just across the street from our elementary school.  And, as I recall, I had been in her house.  I had actually known her at some point in my life.  She was two years ahead of me in school.

SURPRISE!!  Amazing!!

After we finished up, I ran home and dug out my old high school year books, and then my brothers year books (he had entrusted me with his books – he had graduated three years before me).  And there she was.

My questions were:   after all these years and worlds apart, HOW did she recognize me?  And how, after all these years, did we wind up stationed at the same AF base?  Fred was in the Weather Wing there, and her husband was commander of one of the flying units, so we had no other connection together.  But it was fun while it lasted.

 

I do SO enjoy these kinds of happenings!!

 

 

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