My MacDill is…
My name is Debra Abercrombie Burman and I would like to give a shout out to my mother Movia Abercrombie who was a devoted military wife.
She was a huge support to my father Chief Master Sgt Carmon A. Abercrombie, especially when he was stationed away from home and MacDill. He never had to worry about anything while he was overseas as he knew my mother would take care of everything in his absence. She took care of us children, the house, all repairs, all health crises, the bills, and anything that had to be done. This freed my father from worry and allowed him to concentrate on fulfilling his duties to the Air Force.
My parents really were part of the ' Greatest Generation.' During WWII Daddy made the Invasion of North Africa and the Invasion of Sicily. In the 4 1/2 years he was overseas my parents only saw each other on his two 10 day leaves.
My oldest sister Gwen was two years old when he left for War in 1941 and she was 6 1/2 when he returned home in November 1945. She did not know him and was very shy. Can you imagine not being able to see your little girl grow up ? After all they did not have Skype in those days.
However, MacDill became their home in 1946 and they loved it so much they stayed in Tampa after Daddy retired in 1961.
I remember Daddy would come home for supper sometimes and surprise my mother by also bringing one of his men, usually a young airman who was homesick and who needed a good home cooked meal.
My mother wasn't expecting company but she cheerfully set another plate at the dinner table and our family thoroughly enjoyed the young man's company.
I remember how scary the Cuban Missle Crisis was in 1962. You could watch a convoy of military vehicles driving down MacDill Avenue to and from the MacDill Gate all hours of the day and night. I was in 4th grade at Ballast Point Elementary and we were having drills hiding under our wooden desks in Mrs. Mildred Pollard's classroom.
One memory is driving by General Paul Tibbets Jr's house on the way to the base hospital in the late 1950's. His house faced the bay and was located not too far from the hospital. My mother would always point it out and say, " There is where General Tibbets lives. He dropped the first atomic bomb, " Little Boy" on Hiroshima.General Tibbets saved thousands and thousands of American GI's lives because they did not have to make a land invasion. "
I was one of the first girls to become a grocery bagger at the base commissary.Previously only males were allowed to hold this job. This was at the beginning of Women's Liberation so eventually females were allowed to apply for the position. The grocery baggers did not receive a salary but were allowed to accept tips.
This job was so much fun ! You met many interesting people as you carried their groceries to their car. Most customers were very generous with their tips. The work schedule was 8:00 am to 2:30 pm or 2:30 pm to 6:00 pm.Each day you could sign up for either shift or you could sign up for both shifts and work all day.
This job was perfect for me while I was in college as I could make my own schedule around my classes and school work.
Many thanks to my supervisor Sgt. Johnny Johnson. He was very kind and helpful to all of us. He was a great boss and knew how to relate to young people.
My co-workers were off-duty GI's who wanted to make some extra spending money during their off time, retired GI's, high school and college kids.
We loved talking to the retired GI's and hearing their stories. The oldest fellow was named Pappy who was one of the survivors from the 'March on Battan." Pappy was one of the hardest workers I ever knew and he had the sweetest disposition even though he had been through so much on the march and as a POW. He said bagging groceries was " a piece of cake" after surviving the POW camp.
These are just a few of my precious memories from growing up with MacDill Air Force Base.