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Veteran revisits Andersen after 50 years

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Whintey Tucker
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Snapshots of another lifetime unfold like a scene from a silent film as Eldred Pearson steps into his past here April 11.

More than 50 years ago, Mr. Pearson was stationed on Andersen as a member of the 3rd Aviation Support Depot working with munitions. Today, the 79 year-old struggles to find the familiar among buildings and roads that have sprung up in place of those he knew, but finds solace in old memories and the chance to share them with his son.

"We're calling this our nostalgia trip," Mr. Pearson said. "My son, Kendall and I decided to take this trip four years ago, but were forced to put it on the back burner when I discovered I had cancer. After beating it, I came to the realization that I'm not getting any younger. Sometimes it's just now or never."

Stationed here from September of 1954 to the spring of 1956, Mr. Pearson was among the first to experience the implementation of the continuous bomber presence, which remains a vital part of the 36th Wing mission to this day.

"Following the war, Andersen began supporting bomber and aerial refueling units on rotational deployments from the United States," Mr. Pearson said. "The bombers were on 90-day rotations back then and I remember receiving the first B-36s clearly. They were a joy to work on because there was so much room to maneuver compared to the B-29s and the B-50s."

Reflecting on some of his misadventures with local wildlife, a broad smile spreads across Mr. Pearson's face.

"I don't recall ever seeing any brown tree snakes, which seem to be the problem these days, but I can surely remember the snails," he said. "These snails used to run amuck; it was like running into an oil slick. They would huddle together, but you would think 'they're just snails, no big deal' and next thing you know you're on the ground."

Now a grown man and expecting a child of his own, Kendall Pearson listens intently to his father's stories and tries to picture him as a young man, carefree and uninhibited.

"It's hard for me to look at my dad and see him as he must have been then," he said. "When he was on these beaches last, exploring these forests, he was younger than I am now; he hadn't met my mother yet and I wouldn't come along for years. It's something to think about, your parents having a life before you."

Only on Guam for three days, Mr. Pearson takes in as much of the island as possible; he knows this time when he leaves, it will be for good.

"When I left here all those years ago I never imagined I would make a trip back," he said. "I'm glad that I was able to revisit a part of my past that is so distant, at times it seems like it never happened. To share this experience with my son is something I won't soon forget."