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Giving thanks on Memorial Day

Updated on May 25, 2015

My Father: CMSgt George Holder


The handsome gentleman above is my father, George Holder. He grew up in rural Arkansas during the depression. He was one of 7 children born to his parents Marion and Artie Holder. He grew up know the value of hard work. He could be found working in the fields as soon as he was tall enough to stand behind a plow. By 1942, Dad’s older brothers, Owen and Lloyd, were both enlisted in the military.

Dad joined the Air Force at age 16

By the age of 16, Dad had decided he wanted to join the Air Force which had just become an independent branch of our armed services. Dad actually lied about his age in order to join. I believe the recruiter had to have known. Dad may have been 16 but still looked about 12. This young boy, who had never really been off the farm, took off for basic training.

I believe this was taken in Washington, D.C. circa 1949.
I believe this was taken in Washington, D.C. circa 1949. | Source

I admit I do not know a lot about Dad’s activities while in the Air Force. I know there were things that troubled him. I remember a few conversations where he would allude to something that may have happened. There was never any real detail and I knew not to push for more; however, I could tell from the tone in his voice and the look in his eyes that he was bothered by old ghosts. Dad had taken an oath of secrecy about some of his activities years earlier and kept that oath until his death at the age of 72.

Wounded in Korea

Dad served in Korea. At some point during that time he was wounded which resulted in him losing a kidney. He never told us exactly what happened but we think he was bayonetted. He spent about a year in Walter Reed Hospital where he eventually recovered.

The Berlin Wall divided East and West Germany from 1961 until 1989.
The Berlin Wall divided East and West Germany from 1961 until 1989. | Source

Cold War tensions

Mom and Dad were stationed in Germany about the time the Berlin Wall was built. I can’t imagine how terrifying that must have been. Tensions with Russia and its allies were running high and it looked like the Cold War might not stay cold for long. Dad was constantly being called away on different missions sometimes for days at a time. Most of the time Dad was unable to tell Mom where he was going or when he might return. Mom had to keep bags backed for her and my sisters in case of an evacuation.

I know that Dad work with some of the early computers employed by the military and was also involved in cryptography. My family was stationed in Hawaii at the time I was born which was during the height of the Vietnam War. I am told Dad was frequently gone on TDY (temporary duty), I have no idea what he may have been doing; however, given the time and his skill set I can only imagine.


My father retired from the Air Force in 1971 after more than two decades of service. He had achieved the rank of Chief Master Sergeant. This rank was created in 1958 and is the highest enlisted rank in the U.S. Air Force. By law, only about 1% of the enlisted Air Force may hold this rank.

I am immensely proud of my Dad and all that he accomplished. I also humbly thank all the current and former members of the military and their families. I am truly in awe of you.

© 2015 Vicki Holder


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      3 years ago

      This is a great tribute, Vicki.


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