Connecting with brothers-in-arms past, present

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Abby Finkel
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The atmosphere on the bus, normally upbeat and light-hearted, was solemn.

The 10,000 white marble gravestones at the American Cemetery at Coleville in Normandy, France, each one watching over the body of a fallen World War II U.S. military member, had made an impression on a bus full of young, first-term Airmen.

“When we got back on the bus at the cemetery, it was a very somber atmosphere and everyone was introspective,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kala Judd, 48th Operations Support Squadron air traffic control apprentice. “You go to the cemetery and you think, ‘There are 10,000 of my brothers here.’ It really does make you think about what you’re doing and why.”

The four-day trip to the beaches of Normandy was one of several Airman resiliency trips sponsored by the Liberty Wing chapel.

“The purpose of this particular trip was to connect Airmen together,” said U.S. Air Force Chaplain (Capt.) Kenya Gray, 48th Fighter Wing flightline chaplain. “We wanted to appeal to first-term Airmen, and to get them to share an experience with someone they don’t know.”

Airmen were given time to walk through each site at their own pace, learning about the sacrifices of Allied forces on D-Day.

“I think one big takeaway is bringing history to life,” Gray said. “The reality of the comradery these young soldiers had. When one fell, the other stepped up, then another, until they actually got over the wall, because that was their mission.”

Touring through the footprints of their predecessors’ comradery, Airmen connected with their military heritage and, in turn, with each other.

This trip for first-term Airmen is just one of a variety of resiliency trips offered by the chapel. They also offer trips for families and married couples. Each trip has activities specifically catered toward the intended audience. Airmen interested in participating can reach out to the chapel at DSN: 226-3711.