Americans, Brits say event gave families of deployed time to share
Stars and Stripes March 26, 2008
RAF MILDENHALL — Trish and Alan Roberson are in a situation not many of their friends can relate to. They worry a lot, stress more than usual and constantly think about their faraway son.
Twenty-year-old Royal Air Force Senior Aircraftman Michael Roberson is currently stationed in Basra, Iraq, on his first overseas tour. The Brandon native serves with the 2nd Squadron at nearby RAF Honington.
“It’s such a strange feeling to not have him at home,” said Alan Roberson, “but he always knew what he wanted was to go into the RAF, and for him, this is an unbelievable achievement. But it’s not easy on us.”
“Even our British friends don’t understand, but these folks do,” he said, referring to a gathering of British and American families held at RAF Mildenhall.
The Suffolk family was at Mildenhall recently to enjoy a day out with families from both sides of the Atlantic who are in a similar position. Scores of American and British families enjoyed an unseasonably warm March day with a barbecue at Heritage Park.
The barbecue was sponsored by several base organizations, including the Enlisted Spouses’ Club, the Officers and Civilians Spouses’ Club, the British-American Committee, Airman Leadership School and the family readiness center, according to chief organizer Andrea Caswell, 28, of Rochester, N.Y.
The event is the latest in a string of joint “Hearts Apart” events that bring together families of deployed military members from across East Anglia. Families from both RAF Honington and RAF Marham were on hand for the March 15 event.
“This is a chance for spouses of both worlds to realize they are going through the same thing: kids, and loneliness, and paying bills, and everything you have to go through when your spouse is deployed,” said the 100th Air Refueling Wing commander, Col. Eden J. Murrie.
Vicky Stayton, RAF Mildenhall community relations adviser, said the event highlighted all that the participants have in common.
“We all have common issues and common problems,” she said. “And we are all just people.”
Michelle Warnsing, along with 6-year- old Mitchell and 4-year-old Macie, was one of the dozens of Americans on hand to soak in some Air Force hospitality and commiserate with her counterparts.
“If not, we’d be at home doing nothing,” said Warnsing, wife of Staff Sgt. Michael Warnsing of the 100th Security Forces Squadron at Mildenhall. “It’s always good to meet other people in the same position and I always like talking to the Brits.”