Robert Chambers’ family shares memorable Arlington Memorial Day.
Written for Veterans Air by Bruce Chambers
My wife Jan and I drove from our home in the Philadelphia suburbs to Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day morning to visit Dad and Mom’s grave site and to place two small flags there. Only families of those buried at Arlington were allowed into the Cemetery due to the Covid lockdown.
Once in, we walked from the entrance to Section 60 where they were laid to rest. We placed our flags and were just appreciating the time we could spend at their graveside on a very nice day.
An Air Force four-star General asked who we were visiting…
A few minutes later an Air Force four-star General came over to us with his Aide, a Captain in the Air Force. He asked who we were visiting and he asked me to tell him my father’s story. We had a nice conversation about Dad and Mom and my brothers and sister. I told him my older brother was a pilot in the Air Force, I was a pilot in the Air National Guard, and my youngest brother retired as a Major General in the Air Force.
Actually, it was Chief of Staff of the Air Force who asked to hear my Dad’s story!
It turns out this four-star General was General David Goldfein, Chief of Staff for the Air Force!!!!! He knew my younger brother, Bill, since they were both General officers in the Air Force and Bill also knew his brother who was also an Air Force General.
Tell your brother “The Boss” said Hi.
General Goldfein was very kind and gracious. He told me to tell my brother that “The Boss” said Hi.
He then gave me his “challenge coin” which is made just for him as the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
So…here was the top man in the Air Force stopping to talk to someone he didn’t even know so he could learn about who we were visiting, and then thanking us for our service to the country.
We then watched as he roamed around Section 60. He would stop and talk to others, or just stop at a grave site, touch the stone marker, and then move on.
Sometimes the General placed a “coin” on a gravestone of those who served with him.
I learned later that day that General Goldfein visits Section 60 every Memorial Day to visit the grave sites of those who served under him in the various Middle East conflicts. I also learned that he sometimes leaves his “coin” on the gravestones. Section 60 is where most are buried who served in the recent wars. He is a true “servant warrior” who obviously cares deeply for the men and women who serve under him in the Air Force.
The challenge coin he gave me has his name, signature, and CSAF 21 for the 21st Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
Incredible act of kindness.
Needless to say, this had a tremendous impact on me and Jan, and it is something we will never forget. I am sure Dad and Mom are also very grateful for this incredible act of kindness by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
Robert Chambers became Veterans Air DC-3 Chief Pilot after World War II. His 2nd son, Bruce, author of our story, was the first member of this terrific family that I’ve been delighted to meet. Many of the photos on this website and a number of 1940’s documents come from a folder of treasures Bruce began sharing with me in May 2016.
My honor and pleasure to share your Memorial Day encounter, Bruce. Lovely that you and Jan made the trip to your folks’ graveside. And, thank you, General Goldfein for your devotion and humanity.