BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL #29 “Orders for Torrejon Air Base, Spain”

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL#29 “Orders: Torrejon Air Base, Spain”

My series of short works will not always be in chronological order. With this one I will share my experience of leaving Banner Mountain.
I was nineteen on that October Saturday in 1953 when I married my sweetheart.Darrel & Freeda Nichols He was also nineteen and in the U.S. Air Force. I went with him to live in Kansas where he was stationed at Smoky Hill Air Force Base, which later was named Schilling Air Force Base. In 1956, my husband got out of the Air Force and enrolled in college. In 1958, he reenlisted in the Air Force and in less than a year, he received orders to go to Torrejon Air Base, Spain. By this time, we had a four-year-old son and an eighteen-month-old daughter.
Our parents had been tearful when they said goodbye to us, especially when they hugged their grandchildren.Walter Baker, Tammy & Greg 1958 -1 Later, I was told that a few days after we’d left, my dad had erased our baby’s footprints in the sand because when he looked at them, her absence was too painful. How sad that life must be like that. Life happens one day at a time. One. Day. At. A. Time. “Lord, be with us. We are so far from all our relatives.” And I am so very far from my Banner Mountain . . .
We rented a house in Mirasierra, a suburb of Madrid. In my language, Mirasierra means “Look at the mountains.”
And so, the beauty of Spain’s countryside was comforting. We were a family happy to be together, though lonely for our own country and home folks.
Tammy, Freeda & Greg, Madrid, Spain

A Family Bivouac

We went with him to Spain—the kids and I.
The Air Force sent him there to stay three years.
With aching heart, I hugged my folks good-bye
and climbed aboard a jet, eyes filled with tears.

As engines roared into the sky,
the landscape fell away.

I held our baby snugly on my lap,
and thought ‘my folks have never left their town.’
I’d watched them point to Spain upon the map,
saw Dad brush tears and hide a fearful frown.

Tending cows to supplement carpenter’s pay,
he and Mama had made a home for seven children.

Where is my home? I wondered briefly. Then,
my husband squeezed my hand, and I was quite
assured my home will be where he is when
our plane descended from its five-hour flight.

The children romped across a gray-tiled floor,
then fell asleep in beds that were not ours.

The house to which we moved our home was plain,
but peaceful like the turquoise skies of Spain.

© Freeda Baker Nichols

A TIME TO LET GO

A U.S. Air Force Boeing KC-97L Stratofreighter...

A U.S. Air Force Boeing KC-97L Stratofreighter (s/n 52-2630) RAF Mildenhall. This aircraft is today on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Boeing B-47A Stratojet 49-1902 refueled by Boe...

Boeing B-47A Stratojet 49-1902 refueled by Boeing KC-97. (U.S. Air Force photo) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You carried a duffel bag
and carbine rifle aboard the KC-97.
As your plane taxied for take-off,
I held our baby son
more tightly.
See you in a little while.
Your words beat inside my heart
louder than the plane’s big engines
which roared into another country
some hours later.
Your letters came regularly, at first,
then stopped
abruptly.
Missing in Action the uniformed
officers came to tell me.

Your name is engraved
on the Wall of Vietnam Veterans,
forever in my heart
and in the heart of our son
who enlisted yesterday.
See you in a little while.
His words echoed yours
as he departed.
My words stuck in my throat,
reached into my heart and
chipped at the ice caked there.
I watched another determined
young man report for duty
and I begged, oh, please
Dear God, please.

© Freeda Baker Nichols