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December 4th, 2009

Chateauroux Air Station

Fred N. Rabe Is My Mother’s Father
February 5, 1962 | Chateauroux Air Station, France
(N. is for Nelson, also my middle name)

My mother’s father, Fred N. Rabe was a noncommissioned Air Force personnel officer. He was in charge of several tasks including Humanitarian Reassignments, Foreign Jail Release of Air Force personnel and the notification of next of kin.

During Vietnam, he was the man that knocked on the door.

– – –
I cannot remember the last time I saw him alive.

I can remember him taking me to McDonald’s however and ordering my burgers for me, just how I liked them, plain and dry. I can remember watching him smoke as I ate them too. It was only a year or two ago that I learned he did this in secret and it was for me alone that he even entered the place.

I can remember seeing my mom on the phone when the call came and all the other details around this moment.

I can remember the Honor Guard at Arlington National Cemetery firing the shots at his funeral. I was not watching them, I was watching my grandmother. I had not yet entered the third grade.

1957 | Quam, Mariana Islands & 2001 | Arlington National Cemetery, VA