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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

This year we commemorate 75 years of freedom

In 2020, we commemorate the end of the Second World War, 75 years ago. We consider the freedom that was fought for, by people who made great sacrifices to achieve this ultimate goal. We celebrate that we have lived in freedom again since 1945, realizing that as a community we are responsible for passing on freedom to new generations. The libreation in 1945 meant the restoration of our free open and democratic constitutional state. The rights and freedoms that arise from this are not without obligation. We continue to commemorate the victims of war, as well as our liberators and other veterans.

The residents of Soesterberg experienced the occupiers from close up, when the Germans captured Soesterberg Air Base in 1940 and expanded it into a foward operation location to support Luftwaffe operations.

Soesterberg and the Americans

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 'Wolfhound' 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

SAM objective

The mission of SAM is 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.

Commemoration 5 May 2020

If the monument can be realized in time, the SAM committee wants to organize a special Freedom meal in Soesterberg on 5 May 2020, at the opened monument. Everyone is then cordially invited to drink a toast to freedom together, completely in style with hamburgers, donuts, and strawberry milkshakes. The musical accompaniment will be provided by a big band and in the background American vintage cars will provide a final tribute to the era of fossil fuels.

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 are welcome on our donation page!

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. Cor Brinkers
  • Mr. Wim Harmsen

 

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