Soesterberg Air Force Memorial

The connection between Soesterberg and the United States Air Force

The 32nd Fighter Squadron

For 40 years at Soesterberg Airbase

Garagesales and Barbecues

From garage sales, football matches to barbecues

F-15 Eagle

Lust and burden within Soesterberg's airspace

Halloween

To date a festival in Soesterberg

31 augustus 2017
28 augustus 2017

Soesterberg Air force Memorial


On September 17, 2022 at 11:00 am, the Soesterberg Air force Memorial was festively unveiled as part of the Soesterberg Village Festival 2022. During the unveiling, Chris Lorraine (Chairman SAM Committee), Jesse Bustamente (former Wolfhound), Colonel Juris Jansons (United States Embassy) and Mayor Rob Metz spoke to the gathered interested parties. In between the speeches, cheersleaders from the Monarchs from Apeldoorn and the Zeroes from Zwolle performed. In addition, a number of wolfhounds were present; the wolfhound was the mascot of the 32nd Fighter Squadron based at Soesterberg Air Base. After the speeches it was time for the unveiling. The members of the SAM Committee pulled the red/white/blue cloth (the colors in both the American and Dutch flags) from the monument. After the unveiling, the brass section of the Odeon fanfare orchestra played the national anthems of the Netherlands and America. You can watch the full unveiling ceremony here (source www.soesterberg.nu). A short impression, by RTV Utrecht, can be seen here. The monument was completed earlier in 2022. On March 9, 2022, the reaching of the highest point was celebrated in the presence of aldermen Kundic (municipality of Soest) and Fluitman (municipality of Zeist), sponsors and interested parties. With the signing of an agreement, the monument was handed over to the population of the municipality of Soest.

Soesterberg and the Americans

World War II ended in 1945. Every year on May 5, we celebrate that we live in freedom, realizing that together we are responsible for passing on freedom to new generations. The liberation meant the restoration of our free and open democratic constitutional state. The rights and freedoms arising from this are not without obligation. We continue to commemorate the victims and war victims, as well as our liberators and other veterans. The inhabitants of Soesterberg experienced the occupiers very closely when they took the Soesterberg airport in 1940 and expanded it into a German Luftwaffe support point.

After the war, Soesterberg Air Base was put into use again, first by the Royal Netherlands Air Force, with the United States Air Force arriving in 1954. Americans came here to defend our freedom against the nuclear threat fromt the East. The 32nd 'Wolfhounds' squadron was stationed at Soesterberg Air Base. For 40 years, American airmen and their families lived at and around the airbase, particularly in the village of Soesterberg.

A complete neigborhood in the village -with street names such as Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury- was built in typical US style for their housing. Unlike simular residential areas elsewhere in Europe, this neighborhood was simply accessibe to the general public, without a fence around it or security guards to stop them. There were even American children who attended a Dutch primary school in the village.

From near and far, people came to the village on the most important holiday in The Netherlands; Queen's Day. The reason for this attraction was the special atmosphere, when a large delegation of Americans offered their own goodies, hotdogs and grilled hamburgers in their market stalls in the village's center. Until July 1994, when the Americans left in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The foreign presence also resulted in romantic relationships and marriages between Dutch civilians and American airmen. When the 32nd was disbanded in 1994, and the US Air Force left Soesterberg Air Base, this had a huge impact on all involved. In some cases, families were split up.

SAM initiative

To bring the 40-year period of defense of our valuable freedom by the men and women of the United States Air Force in Soesterberg to the attention of visitors and new residents, and to remember this special time for the people who experienced it, a group of local residents undertook the initiative 'SAM': Soesterberg Air force Memorial. These residents all have a personal connection with this period.

SAM objective

The mission of SAM: to erect a monunent near the center of Soesterberg, where everyone can experience the American era of our village's history, with the different backgrounds and customs of the US people, in addition to their military presence at the height of the Cold War.

The emphasis of the monument is on the human side of the US presence and also on the joy that the American airmen shared with us, being far from their home and family. A special monument as a thank you for protecting our freedom, that also reminds us how their culture differed from ours at that time: nowadays commonplace, but in the seventies the first carports in The Netherlands were introduced in Soesterberg, and the same goes for fanatical barbecueing and baseball. We even owe the first McDrive of The Netherlands in Huis ter Heide to the presense of the Americans in Soesterberg.

Donations

The monument is a citizen’s initiative and the realisation of the Soesterberg Air Force Memorial is only possible thanks to the generosity of donors. Residents, former Wolfhounds, large or small businesses, former suppliers or US companies that were once associated with this illustrious period!

Expectations

The monument will strengthen the historical connection and awareness between Soesterberg and that memorable period between 1954 and 1994; Forty years when the 32nd Fighter Squadron of USAF provided an American presence in the village of Soesterberg.

Recommendation

  • Mr. Rob Metz (Mayor Soest)
  • Mr. Koos Janssen (Mayor Zeist)
  • Mr. Theo Ruijs (former director Figi Zeist)

Staff

  • Mr. Christopher Lorraine (Chairman)
  • Mr. Piet Taai
  • Mr. Cor Sukking
  • Mr. Carel Bense
  • Mr. Dick Wels
  • Mr. Gerrit van Rheenen
  • Mrs. Cynthia Wilson
  • Mr. Wim Harmsen

 

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