Reflections of Rebecca Gibbs Fahey
Dear Chicksands Alumni & Friends,
This is a simple but sincere tribute to the person responsible for the success of the Chicksands Millennium Reunion in July 2000. Many of you know him personally for the warm, committed and enthusiastic way in which he helped us reach our goal of once again having an American presence at Chicksands. This person encouraged us to attend the reunion, made arrangements for our lodging, meals, entertainment, schedule, and even provided taxi service for some of us who were walking to the top gate after being dropped of by the Bedford bus which no longer travels through the base down Chicksands Lane.
This person gave up many waking hours to prepare not only the program and base but also concentrated on each little detail such as mowing the maze in the Priory walled garden while many of us were still making the time adjustments due to jet lag. He along with his wife attended to each detail that most of us missed seeing but were the benefactors. They attended every event and seemed to enjoy them as much as we did.
I have to say that in my life I have not known many Brigadiers but this man is a General in my book and it has nothing to do with his Army rank. It can be no secret, to those of you who attended the reunion or visited any of the Chicksands related websites, that the person I refer to in this tribute is Chris G. Holtom, BG.
As Chris retires from the Army and makes his way into the civilian world, I am pleased to take this opportunity to say thanks and best wishes to him and his family. I hope that their Chicksands experiences have enriched their lives as it did for us. I hope that someday we can somehow return the gift of friendship that Chris shared with us to someone else. It is was a big gift, one that he will probably not want to be "fuzzed " about but it changed my life and fulfilled a dream of a lifetime.
Best wishes and Good Luck! You have left your mark on us all.
By Rebecca Gibbs Fahey
I must tell you that the reunion was not my brain child - I sort of happened across the idea when Bill contacted me about a planning meeting at Ft Meade in March of 1999. He asked me to be a coordinator and help him keep track of the reunion details. At that time I didn't know what an excel spreadsheet looked like - now I can prepare them in my sleep (and I have!).
Being a Chickster from the late 70's I was slightly disappointedthat I couldn't motivate many of the folks I keep in touch with to join me on this adventure.....in fact even my family thought I was a little crazy for thinking we could actually get 500 folks to show up in England and spend the week at a place that is no longer home to USAF personnel.
Fortuantely, Bill and Chris and the folks who post messages on the Chicksands.com and the Bedford.gov.uk.com web sites kept me motivated. I knew that even if Bill & Shirley and Chris & Mrs Holtom and Sharon Butcher and I were the only attendees that we were going to have a good time.
500 Yanks show for Y2k blast at the Sands
As many of you will attest we all had a blast! Since very nearly 500 of us did show up - it would seem that we did have a very successful reunion! Thank you for not disappointing us worker bees!! Understandabaly, there were folks who would have liked to be there but couldn't - they were missed!
The fellowship of that week has been a milestone in my life....as were my years at Chicksands. Like the birth of my children and other important days of my life, the reunion will be a reference point for me. Many of my conversations include these words.....when I attended the Chicksands reunion.....
Did I know all of the attendees before the reunion? Certainly not!! Some of you served there before I was born (okay so maybe it wasn't long before my birth) but the facts are the facts! Did I meet new acquaintences? Certainly!! Was the week boring - was the weather unplesant - Certainly not. Would I ever think we could gain the monemtum to pull this off again - I am not sure! But I know if I ever get wind of another plan for one that I want to be part of the effort. I will be there in a heart beat!!
Thank you ALL (attendees and not) for being part of this very personal experience - I wouldn't missed it for anything!
Rebecca Gibbs Fahey
SSgt USAF RAF Chicksands 1976-79