Language:

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

Motivation Behind the Monument

‘‘The idea is to place something that not only the residents of Soesterberg will like, but also something for the Americans that make return visits to be able to look at and think: 'Oh yes, that’s about us'. I also want people to be able to participate, that it will be something not only to look at , but that you can be a part of.” That is what the Soester artist Chris Rodenburg (56) says about the two part monument that he has designed, commisioned by the SAM (Soesterberg Air force Memorial), to be placed in the park on the roof of the tunnel over the Amersfoortsestraat.

It must be a memorial to, and in honour of, the Americans who served here from 1954 till 1994, working at Soesterberg Airbase and living in the village. It is composed of three aluminium panels, on the left the first fighter jets flown by the Americans at Soesterberg, in the middle the runway that has now been taken over by the skylark, and on the right the F-15, the aircraft in use at the end of the period that the Americans were stationed at Soesterberg. For this panel Rodenburg has used the silhouettes that are on the door of the Zulu hangar, a building that still exists today. The panels stand next to each other, in memory of the Berlin Wall, which led to the Americans coming to Soesterberg.

In addition there will be a group of rusty silhouettes of a group of Americans taking part in a typical ‘yard sale’, elements that can be recognised such as the barbecue, the wolfhound (the mascot of the 32nd Fighter Squadron), Halloween, a group of friends playing basketball, a cheerleader and a baseball player, a family with a bowling ball and a serviceman with his hand on his heart whilst listening to the National Anthem. During those years people got married, children were born and people died. In the centre stands the Regal Linden tree with carvings on the trunk of a heart, a stork and a cross representing love, birth and death. There is also someone holding a tulip and behind the tree is a couple in love.

Rodenburg says that as well as being part of the monument by walking between the various elements, it is also possible to look at it whilst sitting on one of three benches that are situated facing the park. The benches have a back rest depicting the silhouette of a typical American Cadillac. “It is as if you are sitting in the the car looking at the park. On the registration plates you find the letters GN (Geen Nederlanders, Non Dutch), the first two letters of the registration plate of every car that was driven by the Americans during their time here”.

Rodenburg found the human, social aspects of the Americans in Soesterberg interesting “because Soesterberg was always considered the airbase as such. But 4000 Americans lived in the village and surrounding area. I pondered over how I could represent that aspect. I took myself back in time to that period, 1954. The Netherlands was only just completing the post war recovery. I heard the stories of that time as I was still to be born. Life was sober. There wasn’t much. And then along come the Americans. They were physically bigger, more lively, had a completely different lifestyle. That must have brought about something, that must have been something special”.

As an example, Soesterbergers and Americans met each other during Halloween celebrations and on Queen’s Day. “I told people what I was going to do and the reaction was always: 'Oh yes, those Americans'. There was a sort of twinkle, surrounded by energy. And everyone has their own memories of that time. To revive those memories in response to what they see here, that is what I hope to achieve. I have tried to put that feeling into the monument.”

Source: Soester Courant

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 (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

 

458 views
Artist Chris Rodenburg from Soest has designed three extraordinary panels for the park that is to be...

Read more