"Like everyone else, living in England, and going to school there in the mid-70's was an incredible experience for me. Being there from the ages of 13-15, growing into young adulthood, with all the emotions and raging hormones, enhanced the new experiences I was to have. I met many wonderful people of various ethnic backgrounds, ages and tolerances. Being together in this wonderful place, depending on each other, helped me to forge the lasting friendships I still have today. Growing up in that environment blessed me with the ability to think outside the box and "Let It Be". There were so many people I was acquainted with and liked very much. Every year we were there saw the departure and farewells of friends and the arrival of friends-yet-to-be. Letting go was extremely hard, but promises to 'keep in touch' were broken over the time and distance that is the life of a Military Brat.
Through the miracle of the internet I recently reconnected with some of my friends from Lakenheath and Feltwell, I was so excited. I learned of the reunions that had occurred and thought how wonderful it would be to see some of my old classmates. For years I felt anonymous. I didn't think anyone would remember me, and I surely didn't think there was anyone who cared as much about that time in their life as I did. But when I heard there was a chance to have the reunion in Texas, in Austin or San Antonio, I had mixed emotions. Those people back then meant so much to me and it would ruin all of my cherished memories to find out I was alone in those feelings. When I heard San Antonio was chosen as the site for the 2009 Reunion, I jumped at the chance to help out in any way I could. This was important to me and I had by then found out that there were several people who remembered me indeed and DID feel the way I did! I couldn't WAIT!!
The reunion was a huge success. The weather was beautiful, the accommodations were pretty good, Kelly Russell made arrangements so we would have a day room to hang out in, and many opportunities for everyone to get together. People came in from all over the US beginning Wednesday night into Friday. Conversations picked up like no time had gone by since the last time we'd met, when in my reality, I was seeing some of my friends for the first time since 1975 and 1976! Thirty-three and thirty-four years had passed since I'd seen those beautiful faces and it was like yesterday, only we were older, grayer. The Friday Meet 'n Greet was wonderful. So many people so happy and excited to see each other. The yearbooks and memorabilia were poured over and almost devoured by one and all. The food served that night was delicious. Saturday's Dinner and Dance was a smash. The DJ did a fabulous job of mixing it up and playing those heart-wrenching oldies. I don't think there was anyone left out but me when the "Love Train" formed and snaked around and around the room. I snapped pictures the whole time, not wanting to miss a thing. I was in heaven.
Sunday dawned to rainy skies. It was as though the San Antonio weather matched the feelings I had as I faced the prospect of saying good-bye again to my friends. It was Lakenheath all over again, only this time, my friends weren't leaving me one at a time, leaving knicks in my heart. They were leaving me all at once, slicing a huge chunk off my heart. I was so brave as I dropped everyone off at the airport, promises again of keeping in touch and seeing each other soon. The tightest hugs good-bye. I had to pull over into a parking lot on my way home because the tears that had begun to fall as I drove away suddenly overwhelmed me. I was so grateful for the experience and bereft at the parting. But I was also full of hope and expectations because I know now, without a doubt, those promises will not be broken again."
Kelly S. DeFonte