Ramey AFB, located near Aqudilla, Puerto Rico, was built in 1939 in order to protect the Panama Canal. Things are always in a constant state of change and Ramey was no different. In 1973 it was closed down. The base may be gone, but Barb and I retain a host of warm memories of the base and the people, having served there 1963 to 1966.
More than a decade ago Ken Coombs, an airman who worked in the air traffic control tower during World War II, started the Ramey Air Force Base Historical association. Membership includes those who served there, wives, children, and even those who were born at the base hospital.
Every spring there is a reunion. In the spring of 2016 the membership met at San Antonio, Texas and toured Lackland AFB. Barb and I couldn’t go for health reasons, but we went to the one that occurred a decade ago.
When we toured Lackland we were welcomed into the reviewing stand where we witnessed the retirement ceremony for the Air Force Training Commander NCOIC, an E-9. It lasted quite some time and the early spring wind chilled us to the bone.
The ceremony involved the troops who were in basic training, plus more generals and colonels than I’ve seen in one place.
Troops at Lackland AFB, Texas
The troops you see behind the B-25 were moving to the far side of the huge parade ground where they stood at parade rest for more than an hour Then, in order to pay their respects to the retiring sergeant another sergeant, leaving his post, marched the length of the parade ground to fetch them. Bringing them to attention, he marched them back to the take part. When they were finished we waited while he marched them back to where he found them and then returned to his post.
It was a grand experience that took time. But time means nothing to the military when it comes to upholding tradition.