In October 1968, I reported in at Lindsey Air Station in Wiesbaden, Germany, the Air Force headquarters for all of Europe. The person I replaced had left me a mess.
I would be in charge of the Blank Forms Department, the Message Center, and 17 printers in the printing department. I started a night shift that night.
Many of the printers had worked for me during my 23 years up until that time. One of my printers was a young female with five years of service. This was her second assignment in Germany, and I was told she was an outstanding worker.
As I watched her, I could tell something was wrong. I kept her on my day shift so I could try and find out what made her look so sad.
We took coffee breaks next door at the NCO Club, and the second day I asked her to go with me. When I asked her why she was so sad, she opened up her heart to me.
Her dad was in the Air Force for four years. He was assigned to Rhein Main Air Base, just 30 miles from our headquarters, as an aircraft mechanic for three of his four years. He met her mother and they were married. My young printer was born in the base hospital there.
When her dad’s tour was over he was sent to an air base in Georgia with his family. When his enlistment was over he was hired as a civilian in his old job.
All this time, his German wife was very homesick to visit her parents in Germany. There was a lot of friction between the two of them.
The daughter had joined the Air Force after high school. The wife had gone back to Germany for a visit, and the husband found out that she did not want to return to the States. That was the reason the daughter was in her second tour in Germany, looking for her mom.
When we returned from our coffee break, I talked to our secretary, an older lady who spoke many languages, and asked her to help to find the young printer’s mother. She found the mother in two days, and I gave my young printer a couple of days off to see her mom. It must have been a good visit, as her mom agreed to go back to the States to her husband.
I pulled some strings and got the young printer an early out of the military, and got them a hop on a plane back to Georgia.
I met her mom and drove both of them to Rhein Main Air Base to catch their flight back to the states. I never met two ladies that were so happy.
(I never knew that I had that much pull on a new base, either.)
(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.)