Dancing on Tour Overseas pt 2

Continuing Saga

by Lynda Southworth

The Flight from the USA to Germany 2

A short while later, one of the young pilots walked down the aisle to check the passengers. When he returned, he struck up a conversation with me and sat in the empty seat next to me. 5 minutes later he returned to the cockpit. There were three pilots.

A couple hours passed, and people were trying to get comfortable enough to sleep on the long, overnight flight. I was resigned to a sleepless night and being exhausted by morning.

Then the cockpit door opened. One of the pilots came out to speak to me. He informed me that they had a couple bunks, but rarely if ever used both. I was invited to use the one they rarely used, “because a young lady entertaining the troops should be well rested.” I was assured I’d be perfectly safe. How long do you think it took me to say, “Yes”? I very quietly stepped in front of him, so he blocked the view and stepped through the door.

I didn’t wake until morning when I heard through the curtain someone knock on the cockpit door. It was George in a panic because one of his troops was missing. The pilot whispered where I was. George asked how long before we landed and was told in about two hours. I went back to sleep.

Just before we were supposed to land, the pilot came to notify me through the curtain that we would be landing in half an hour. I went quietly back to my seat refreshed and ready for the day. Only George knew that I had slept in a bunk. All the rest were stiff, bleary-eyed, and exhausted. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, so to speak. As I deplaned, all three pilots wished me well on the tour and to “knock them dead.” 

My Angel had been with me all the time. If I hadn’t been late, I would have been sitting back with the rest and exhausted. What I thought was a disaster, turned into a wonderful adventure. I’m always amazed at the kindness of strangers.

We landed, were driven to our lodgings, and had time for a nap before supper and our first performance. After every performance, the troop remained on stage to meet and greet the soldiers. I decided my M.O. (Method operandi) that evening. I noticed a young man still sitting in his seat when others came on stage. He seemed hesitant, so I went to him. We talked until it was time for us to depart for our lodgings. He was a shy, homesick young man. He wanted to know the latest songs in America, etc. At times I tried to make him laugh, but mainly, I just listened to him tell me about his hometown, his family, and his girlfriend along with his wish for a juicy American hamburger instead of sausages. He was so grateful that I listened to him. He expressed what he was experiencing and feeling. He couldn’t tell that to his buddies because they all are tough MEN at least on the outside. 

That is when I decided I would look for the young and shy and mainly just listen to them along with answering questions about what was happening socially in the USA. Remember, many of these young men were fresh out of high school, this was the first time they had left home, they were dealing with a new culture, and they had to be unemotional, tough MEN ALL the time. Many times, I heard that they just wanted to talk with an American girl.

This tour was so satisfying to me because it was like listening to and comforting one of my brothers when he needed to let it all out.

My Mom the Superhero

My mother was born and raised on a Tobacco farm way up in the hills of Kentucky, she attended a one room school house until she went high school, from which she proudly graduated from. She was by no means ignorant, being one of the best-read people I’ve ever met.

My father was assigned to Ramstein AFB in what was then West Germany, as there was available housing, he had to go on ahead of us to secure a place for the Jones clan. In the meanwhile, my mother, little brother Davey, and I settled into a VERY small apartment to wait. The place had one saving grace, a swimming pool. I invited my friends over to come swimming, a welcome invitation in the hot Omaha summer. One of my friends just happened to be Black. The four of us quickly changed into trunks and jumped in, the lone occupant, a young girl our age, just as quickly jumped out and ran off, we barely noticed, and spent the rest of the afternoon having fun.

That evening the manager came to our door and told me that all guests had to be pre-approved first. I was totally puzzled. Not so my mother, she may have a sweet southern accent, but both she and my Dad believed in equality, and raised us to be color-blind and judge people on their actions. Mom knew the score and became my personal super-hero that day. She whirled around, gently pushed me out of the way and stuck a finger in the manager’s face.

“We will NOT be submitting our guests for your approval, nor will we put up with ANY of your racist garbage, if I EVEN hear of anything prejudicial towards my sons OR their friends I’ll have the Base legal office put not only THIS apartment off limits but every property owned by your boss off limits”. Oh, hell (first time I’d ever heard my mother curse), I’ll just call them up now!  John Paul, get me the phone”. What happened next was the most egregious case of fawning, kowtowing, and pleading I have ever seen another human go through. Satisfied, my mother dismissed him regally, as a queen military wife should!  I was in awe, and remained that way, even after her passing.

My mom the superhero

–John Paul Jones


Unclaimed Cremated Remains of 29 Deceased Veterans Interred on September 24, 2020 at the Santa Fe National Cemetery

SANTA FE–The cremated remains of twenty-nine military veterans who, upon their deaths were unclaimed by family members, were laid to rest with military honors today at the Santa Fe National Cemetery in a special 2020 Forgotten Heroes Funeral.

Due to COVID-19 protective health measures, the funeral was a private event attended by New Mexico Department of Veterans Services (DVS) Secretary Judy Griego, New Mexico Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Ken Nava, Santa Fe National Cemetery Interim Director Jennifer Dehorty, and a handful of staff members from DVS and Daniels Family Funeral Services of Albuquerque—all of whom were wearing protective masks and observed social distancing.

The entire service was videotaped and will be posted next week on the DVS website. Governor Michele Lujan Grisham delivered a videotaped eulogy, praising the fallen veterans for their sacrifice on behalf of all Americans.

“We are forced to host this ceremony virtually, but that should not diminish our effort to provide these veterans the ‘final salute’ they earned through their service to our country,” said the Governor. “This may be called the Forgotten Heroes Funeral, but these heroes, today, are not forgotten. May the souls of these 29 men rest now and forever in peace.”

Daniels Family Funeral Services donated the urns and also hosted a brief memorial service prior transporting the urns to the Santa Fe National Cemetery. Of the 29 veterans—all of them male—25 were from Bernalillo County, and four from Otero County. They were provided the formal military funeral through the Forgotten Heroes Burial Program. This collaborative effort between the state and all thirty-three counties in New Mexico ensures that any honorably discharged deceased veteran whose body goes unclaimed by family members receives a military funeral at the Santa Fe National Cemetery.

The program was created in 2009 through an initial collaboration with Bernalillo County, which sought assistance to help lay to rest—with honor–the cremated remains of its unclaimed deceased veterans. It was the first state-led collaborative effort in the nation to ensure that unclaimed deceased honorably discharged veterans receive a military funeral.

Interred with full military honors at today’s funeral were the following 25 veterans from Bernalillo County:

USAF Pvt. Adrian San Jose Christain Aarons (Date of death: 5/23/19)

U.S. Army (rank undetermined) Lionel Eugene Austin (12/31/18)

USAF A1C Robert Bell (8/23/18)

U.S Navy SA John D. Brant (12/31/17)

Army SP4 Dobbins D. Brown (8/10/18)

U.S. Coast Guard PO1 Richard Lee Bryson (1/31/18)

Army (rank undetermined) Jimmy Edward Chavez (2/25/18)

Army (rank undetermined) Fredrick Finfrock (3/19/19)

USAF MSgt. Arnold Alvin Fischer (9/14/18)

Army (rank undetermined) Horatio C. Flores (9/10/18)

USMC (rank undetermined) Bruce Charles Fox (2/1/19)

Navy (rank undetermined) Gregory Ayala Garcia (5/14/18)

Coast Guard PO3 Hugh Kenneth Gilmour (9/4/18)

Navy (rank undetermined) Fred Louis Hernandez (10/24/18)

USMC (rank undetermined) Perry Lee Hiner (6/11/18)

Army PFC Rafael Jesus Hinojosa (12/29/18)

USAF (rank undetermined) Jimmy Wayne Mattison (5/4/18)

Army PFC Gary W. Moore (7/16/18)

Army PFC Carlos Pinkston (4/30/18)

Navy SA Larry Wayne Reckard (7/3/18)

Army (rank undetermined) Don Anthony Saavedra (12/31/18)

USAF (rank undetermined) Herdia Luke Shell (9/25/18)

Army SP4 Darryl Howard Shrader (6/15/18)

USAF SSgt James Arthur Stevens (3/11/19)

USAF (rank undetermined) Hugh Godwin Vann II (9/22/18)

Interred today from Otero County:

USMC Cpl Earl Brubaker (3/27/17)

Navy P3 Elbert Stocks (3/13/18)

Army PVT Richard Wolfe (6/12/18)

USAF TSgt Buddy Milford (3/6/17)

Today’s funeral featured a flag-fold ceremony and 21-Rifle Volley performed by the New Mexico National Guard Honor Guard. Adjutant General Nava presented the folded American Flag used in the service to DVS Secretary Griego, who accepted it on behalf of Governor Lujan Grisham and the citizens of New Mexico.

Story: Ray Seva