USO Georgia volunteer, returns to Guam 50 years later to honor friend’s final wishes
Tumon Bay, Guam (April 29, 2019) David Fisher has been committed to America’s service members his entire life. As a child he moved from Offutt AFB in Nebraska to Andersen AFB in Guam when his father was reassigned. He later followed in his father’s footsteps and served in the Air Force and has been a committed volunteer for the Jean R. Amos USO Center at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for several years. Fifty years ago, Guam was a “wonderful culture shock” for a kid from the Midwest. He found lifelong friends and a commitment to keeping service members connected to home and family when he became part of the ”familia” in Guam.
During the late 1960'sat the height of the Vietnam War, a rock-n-roll band known as the Burlington Express, consisting of high school Air Force dependents on Guam formed to entertain military personnel, “For me, it was about having fun. I was a high school kid with only beach, girls, and rock-n-roll on my mind” David said of his experience as bass player of the band. The band entertained more than 100,000 at their different events on the island according to the Tropic Topics. (Braverman, Rich. Sept 1, 1969. Andersen AFB (Guam) Newspaper). Band members organized a dance in the parking lot of the teen club, performed on the roof of his house in the middle of the night, and skipped school for the beach a time or two.
A support group known as the Burlington Express Hospital Team (BEHT) was quickly formed to work alongside the band. The two “teams” interacted two times a month with military personnel and soldiers wounded in Vietnam who were recovering in military hospitals located on Guam. These visits had a huge impact on David as a kid. “It was an amazing period-of-time. The music of the 1960’s was fantastic, it was the height of the Vietnam war, the island of Guam was beautiful and musical entertainment was in high demand. The band members were proud to have been in the Burlington Express that helped fulfill that demand.” David recalled.
In April 2019 David returned to Guam and visited the USO centers established there in the years since he left the island. Joining him were Rose White (David’s sister), and Paula (Narramore) Hatfield. Both were members of the BEHT. Corey Stewart, Paula’s son, joined the group on this 50th anniversary trip to the island. They brought the ashes of Vicki Narramore, BEHT member, who passed away last year.
“It was an honor for me to bring some of her ashes to scatter on Guam during this 50th anniversary visit. During some of our final conversations she shared her pleasure and pride of serving our troops in such a personal way as a member of the BEH,.” Fisher stated.
The return trip to Guam was a chance to view the island with new perspective. Instead of remembering the past through the eyes of a high school age guitar player, David now views the past within much greater context. He can view the past through the reflection of the musical, social, cultural and political changes that took place in the late 1960’s. He can view the past in consideration of the many conversations that he had with several Vietnam veterans. He can view the past reflecting on his own service in the Air Force and recent experiences serving as a USO volunteer.
As part of their 50th Anniversary pilgrimage to Guam, David and his wife made a generous $5,000 donation to USO Guam to support its mission of strengthening service members by connecting them to family, home and country throughout their service to our nation. ” Our two centers on Guam welcome more than 100,000 visits each year,” said Leigh Leilani Graham, USO Guam Area Director. “On an island with a population of only 165,000 where 12,000 are military, that shows just how important the USO mission is to our service members and families. This incredible donation from David Fisher and his spouse represents a lifetime of giving from two very patriotic Americans who understand the many sacrifices required by our military to protect the freedoms of this great nation. USO Guam is forever grateful and we will not forget.”
David and Julie are committed volunteers at the Jean R. Amos USO Center at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Julie has cooked meals for groups as large as 300 during their first Saturday of the month rotations. They also participate in preparing service members for return to their deployment location following their short R&R in the states. They collect bags and luggage, process paper work, prepare care packages, and assist service members to departure gates. The Hartsfield International Airport USO volunteers thank them for their service and ask them to return safely. Many of the civilians in the airport clap and cheer as the troops march in formation through the airport. Many times, tears can be seen in some of the civilians’ eyes. David said, “I can always tell that this routine means so much to the troops. It means a lot to the staff and volunteers as well.”
Even from Atlanta David is still connected to Guam. The USO Atlanta Center receives new enlistees from Guam and the surrounding areas in the center on a regular basis. David is very proud to serve the military as a USO volunteer. His experiences in today’s USO have provided wonderful context to his adventures on Guam that took place 50-years ago and it enriches his life. He encourages everyone to consider volunteering or to make a financial donation to help the USO carry on it’s amazing legacy.
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