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Connecting with brothers-in-arms past, present

Small crosses line the base of the Omaha Beach memorial in Normandy, France, Sept. 4. Liberty Wing Airmen visited the beach as part of a chapel-sponsored resiliency trip. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Abby L. Finkel)

Small crosses line the base of the Omaha Beach memorial in Normandy, France, Sept. 4. Liberty Wing Airmen visited the beach as part of a chapel-sponsored resiliency trip. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Abby L. Finkel)

Royal Air Force Lakenheath Airmen read a map at the American Cemetery at Coleville during a chapel-sponsored resiliency trip to Normandy, France, Sept. 4. The trip was designed to help first-term Airmen settle into their overseas assignment. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Abby L. Finkel)

Royal Air Force Lakenheath Airmen read a map at the American Cemetery at Coleville during a chapel-sponsored resiliency trip to Normandy, France, Sept. 4. The trip was designed to help first-term Airmen settle into their overseas assignment. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Abby L. Finkel)

48th Fighter Wing Airmen walk by the Les Braves sculpture at Omaha Beach during a chapel-sponsored resiliency trip to Normandy, France, Sept. 4. The trip was designed to connect Airmen with history and each other. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Abby L. Finkel)

48th Fighter Wing Airmen walk by the Les Braves sculpture at Omaha Beach during a chapel-sponsored resiliency trip to Normandy, France, Sept. 4. The trip was designed to connect Airmen with history and each other. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Abby L. Finkel)

Airmen assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing read about D-Day at Pointe du Hoc during a chapel-sponsored resiliency trip to Normandy, France, Sept. 4. The trip allowed Airmen to learn about their history and share the experience with new friends. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Abby L. Finkel)

Airmen assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing read about D-Day at Pointe du Hoc during a chapel-sponsored resiliency trip to Normandy, France, Sept. 4. The trip allowed Airmen to learn about their history and share the experience with new friends. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Abby L. Finkel)

48th Fighter Wing Airmen walk past a World War II bunker during a chapel-sponsored resiliency trip to Normandy, France, Sept. 4. The trip was for first-term Airmen who have been on station for less than 18 months. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Abby L. Finkel)

48th Fighter Wing Airmen walk past a World War II bunker during a chapel-sponsored resiliency trip to Normandy, France, Sept. 4. The trip was for first-term Airmen who have been on station for less than 18 months. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Abby L. Finkel)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- 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.