Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | May 7, 2010

The Sound of Freedom

Spangdahlem Air Force Base in Germany

Today, Paul and I choked back tears as Dad returned to Spangdahlem Air Force Base near Bitburg, Germany. Spangdahlem was a small air base when Dad first came here in 1952. When Dad arrived here he was the only airplane mechanic, which worked out well because there was only one airplane on the base. Other crew chiefs and aircraft would arrive later. In addition to his responsibility for servicing the only airplane on the base, Dad and the other fifty airmen erected the first pre-fabricated barracks buildings. These stark boxes were heated by pot-belly stoves. And, because Dad spoke more German than any of the other airmen on base, he was responsible for taking teams into town to purchase and bring coal back to the base to heat the barracks stoves. Dad describes it all as an adventure. He enjoyed his time, experiences, and friendships at Spangdahlem.

Dad being interviewed at Spangdahlem

Dad and Paul and I have been looking forward to this day for months. Not long after Mom passed away last May, Paul contacted the public affairs office at Spangdahlem and told them that we wanted to bring Dad back to Germany. Lieutenant Polesnak, a young twenty-four year-old woman from Michigan, arranged for Dad to have a tour of the base – now a sprawling town of its own with a population of more than six-thousand. To our surprise, she also arranged for a reporter and photographer and film crew to record Dad’s visit. Dad was interviewed for a piece that will air on armed forces television around the world. That is certainly more than we expected.

Crew Chiefs showing Dad the F-16 Jet

As an added bonus, Lieutenant Polesnak also arranged for Dad to visit with the crew chiefs on base. We had an opportunity to meet in one of the large hangers where they talked to Dad about their work on F-16 fighter jets and other aircraft. Dad showed them photos of what life was like on the base when he was here and photos of the airplanes he worked on from 1952 to 1954. Paul and I stood to the side and watched all of this unfold with tears in our eyes. Perhaps the sweetest moment was when one of the crew chiefs presented Dad with a special memento on behalf of all of the crew chiefs at the base. He then shook Dad’s hand and gave him a hug! Dad was so moved by this kind and thoughtful gesture. He quietly wept.

Dad with Crew Chiefs at Spangdahlem

It’s hard for me to write about everything that happened today without getting emotional. I love my Dad and am so thankful to God for every kindness he experienced today. Paul and I could not say thank you enough to everyone who made today so special and memorable for Dad. From the moment we stepped on base, Lieutenant Polesnak and every person we met treated Dad with the highest respect. Our military men and women are absolutely the finest in the world. I was moved by the words of one young man. As we were speaking, three F-16’s thundered down the runway one after the other. The noise was so loud that we could not speak. After a moment I commented on what an amazing sound these jets make as they take off. The young crew chief looked at me and said, “Yes, sir. It is indeed an amazing sound. That’s the sound of freedom.” I am grateful for Dad’s service at Spangdahlem and for those who serve here today to ensure that the sound of freedom is never silenced.

• • • • •

Read the story about Dad’s visit on the Spangdahlem Air Base website.


Responses

  1. Hi Omar,

    Spangdahlem pilots make us sick with their noise for decades. Practising with fighter jets over our houses til night is not neccessary. You have deserts for those flights. We do not want to suffer from this daily terror anymore.

    • Hi Holger,

      Thanks for your comment. There is an old adage that says one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. That saying certainly applies in the case of the sound of freedom. What some in the area may find disturbing others actually find pleasing. As we drove through several of the villages and towns around Spangdahlem (from Trier to Bitsburg to smaller villages to Luxembourg) I noticed personnel from Spangdahlem purchasing gas, eating at restaurants, enjoying ice cream in eis parlors, and purchasing items in stores. I looked in the window of two tailor shops and saw racks filled with uniforms needing alterations. And, all but one of the persons I met on the base live in houses they rent from German landlords off of the base. As the population of the base has grown, so has much of the local economy. Silencing the skies might actually result in other things in the area being silenced and closed as well. That might be a greater terror to many of those who live near Spangdahlem.

      I am not entirely unsympathetic with your concern about the noise. I have owned and lived in two homes located near air bases in two Texas cities. So, I am not unfamiliar with the sound of planes flying at all hours of the day and night. However, I did not mind the sound because I understand that vigilance comes with a price and freedom can never be maintained and advanced at our convenience. Having traveled to more than thirty countries and several of the world’s most dangerous places, I have spoken to those suffering cruel oppression and who long to hear the sound of freedom in their skies. I am thankful for the security I enjoy but do not want to become so complacent as to think that it cannot be taken away. I am willing to be inconvenienced because those who defend freedom must train and prepare close to my home. I deeply long for the day when there will be no more war and swords will be turned into plowshares. Until then, I prefer to hear the sound of freedom.

      Respectfully,
      Omar~

  2. WOW!!! This is an awesome moment for your dad and you and your brother! Thank you for sharing it wiht us! May God continue to watch over our Troops and keep that sound of Freedom ringing in their ears! God bless you O!

  3. Such wonderful moment for you to get to share with your Father. I read almost every blog you have written this year. I hope your are enjoying your vacation. I know you will hold these moments in your heart forever. Our oldest boy is in Pakistan in the Air Force he is a major and a military attachee to the embassy. Please remember him in your prayers since Pakistan is not at war I am concerned for his safety.

  4. Hi Renee and Sharon…

    Thanks for your kind words. This has been an amazing trip with my Dad and my brother-in-law. And Sharon, we will pray for your son as he serves our country. Thank you for making me aware of his service in the Air Force.

    Blessings,
    Omar~

  5. O,

    Thanks for keeping us updated. How cool for your dad to be there with his sons and to be honored like that. The military still loves tradition and your dad is a part of their history. I am grateful that we have men like your father who have served our country. It is the service men and women of our past, present, and future who help keep our country free.

    I pray that God will continue to bless your time.

    You are a true blessing to many and I am grateful for you and thankful that you live out loud for God.

    Thanks Omar!

  6. Hey Herschel…

    Thanks for your kind words. I appreciate your friendship and encouragement.

    Blessings,
    Omar~

  7. I was deeply touched by your story. Thank you for sharing. What an awesome experience for your brother-in-law and you to share with your father! I am extremely grateful to all who have served and are currently serving in the military to protect our freedom.

  8. Hi Ruth…

    Thanks for your encouraging note. This has been a wonderful journey of discovery. And, like you, I am also grateful for all who have served and are serving in our military.

    Blessings,
    Omar~

  9. Baby O, What an awesome day that must have been for your Dad. Give him a hug and thank him for serving and making it possible for me to live that life of Freedom. I love you brother.

  10. Baby Doug. Thanks for your kind words. I shared them with Dad. We have had a great time retracing his steps in Germany. Love you, bro.

  11. What awesome memories to share!! We hope some day to go to Germany and visit where Matt grew up…born in an Army hospital in Hamburg and went back later to Stuttgardt. It would be fantastic to go with Matt’s parents.

    For now, we dream of places to go and see together…and either help or hinder our kids in the language department. (The verdict is still out on that.) I speak to them in Spanish while Matt speaks to us in German. We frequently have mixed language dialogue. It sounds funny, and it is quite fun.

    Thank you to your dad for his service. Thank you to the rest of the family who had to let him go. Thank you, Niki for posting on your FB page.

  12. Hi Nancy,

    Thanks for your comment. I hope that you and Matt will have the opportunity to visit Germany one day with Matt’s parents. A trip like this is a great way to learn about a slice of your family history and to see how it fits into the larger picture of your life. Keep up the good work of speaking to your kids in Spanish and German. You are making good memories for them by doing so.

    Blessings,
    Omar~


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