Thursday, October 17, 2013


Dear Friends,

When most of us were stationed on Crete in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, we had arrived as young men in our late teens and early twenties.  Most of us thought that because we were men (actually, we were little more than just kids), we had to display a certain bravado and toughness.  This meant rarely exhibiting our emotions or our feelings for fear that it might be viewed as a sign of weakness.  Therefore, we did all that we could to conceal any show of our true feelings in order to avoid the ridicule of our peers – a ridicule that could often be brutal and relentless.  However, with the passage of decades, sometimes I now look back on some of the events that took place and can’t help but feel emotions that I would have been loath to exhibit then.  With that having been said, I submit the following remembrance:

After my arrival on Crete in December of 1968 and having been assigned to “Charlie Flight”, I made a very conscious effort to “fit in” with the rest of the guys on Charlie Flight and was eager to participate in any activities with my “Charlie Flight brothers” outside of the compound or off base.  So, in the early spring of 1969 when it was announced that “Charlie Flight” would be delivering a load of surplus bunk beds, mattresses, desks, and other assorted used furnishings to an orphanage in the little mountain village of Anogia on Crete, I was excited about the prospect of participating in such a worthwhile project.  This effort was led by TSgt. Walter J. Williams, III (also known as “Willie”, “Bud” and “The Big Kahuna”).  We left Iraklion Air Station in an odd assortment of P.O.V’s. (privately owned vehicles), along with an Air Force flatbed truck loaded with the disassembled bunk beds, mattresses, desks, etc.  We must have looked like a modern-day wagon train as we slowly wound our way up along the narrow, twisting, and sometimes rock-strewn and sometimes unpaved road to Anogia.  Upon our arrival in Anogia our little caravan of vehicles was surrounded by the villagers as they escorted us to the orphanage.  Once at the orphanage, the flatbed truck was unloaded and all of the surplus items taken inside for re-assembly.  There were either two or three interpreters who accompanied us to act as a liaison between us and the local villagers.  As I recall, there was a large dormitory-style room where several of us were tasked with the job of re-assembling the bunk beds.  The room was cold and rather barren looking...almost harsh.  I sat down with a pile of assorted bunk bed parts and started putting this metallic jig-saw puzzle back together again.  Using a pair of pliers, a wrench and a screwdriver, I was putting the parts back together, when I noticed a small boy with dark hair and even darker eyes that sparkled like black diamonds, wearing a tattered sweater and pants with holes at the knees, watching me intently from just a few feet away.  He was barefoot and standing on the cold stone floor.  By his side, he was holding some type of stuffed animal that was worn and ragged, and looked like it was older than the little boy - it was obviously a “hand-me-down”.  He was neither smiling nor was he frowning; he was just watching with the intensive curiosity of a small child.  I guessed that he was about six years of age.  “Geia sou”, I said, smiling at him.  Having been on Crete for only two or three months, that was about the extent of my Greek vocabulary.  He managed a shy smile back and then said something in Greek that I didn’t understand.  “Hey, Manoli, can you come over here and tell me what this little boy is saying?” I shouted out to one of the interpreters.  I really didn’t know if the interpreter’s name was Manoli or not, but at that time if you didn’t know a Greek’s name, it seemed like it automatically became “Manoli”.  The interpreter walked over and spoke to the little boy.  “What was he saying, Manoli?” I asked.  “Oh, he just wanted to know what you were doing”, Manoli said.  “O.K.  Well, just tell him that I’m putting together a bed.”  Manoli turned and spoke in Greek to the little boy.  Then, with an expressionless face, the little boy said something to Manoli.  Manoli paused, cast his eyes downward and was silent.  “Well, what did he say, Manoli?” I asked.  Manoli lifted his eyes and replied with his heavy Greek accent, “The little boy wants to know”, he paused, then continued, “...what is a bed?”  At first I thought that I hadn’t heard Manoli correctly or that he was playing some kind of joke on me.  But, when I glanced at Manoli, then at the little boy, then back to Manoli again, I realized that he was serious.  This little boy had never slept in a bed before; he didn’t even know what a bed was.  He had always slept on a pallet on the floor!  I quickly turned my head away from both of them and started fiddling with one of the tools, pretending that I was still putting the bunk bed parts back together.  I didn’t want either one of them to see the redness in my eyes - after all, young men don’t cry.  Once I had somewhat regained my composure, I cleared my throat and said to Manoli, “You tell him that a bed is something that you sleep on at night.  Or, you can even sleep on it during the day if you want to take a short nap.  Tell him that I’m putting this bed together especially for him.  It will be his bed.  And, no one can ever take it away from him.  If they do, they'll have to face me, and I’ll make sure that he has his bed back.  Tell him that, Manoli”, I said as my voice started to tremble a bit.  Manoli nodded, turned and spoke to the child, and as he did so, the little boy began to smile.  After I had assembled the bed frame, I inserted the springs and found a surplus mattress that wasn’t in too bad a condition.  There were no sheets as I can remember, but there was a stack of used Air Force blankets piled in a corner of the room.  I selected the two best blankets that I could find, then I covered the mattress with one blanket and used the second blanket like a top sheet.  The little boy had remained at my side the entire time.  When I was finished, I motioned for the little boy to climb up on the bed and lay down.  I had pulled back the top blanket and the small boy sandwiched himself between the two blankets.  He pulled his little stuffed animal close to his body and even closer to his heart, then closed his eyes.  Perhaps that stuffed animal was his only kin...or maybe even his only friend.  I stepped outside for a cigarette and walked around in the cool spring, mountain air for a few minutes, trying to understand what had just happened and trying to get a grip on my emotions.  When I returned, the little boy was asleep.

That was 44 years ago.  If the little boy was six years old at that time, then he must be about 50 years old now.  I hope that he is married, and that he has children and perhaps even grandchildren.  But more than anything, I hope that he has a sense of belonging, a sense of being wanted and needed, and above that, a sense of being loved.

As an addendum to this story, I might say that as I was writing this article, more than once did tears well up in my eyes.  Yes, I know...young men don’t cry...but old men do!

P.S.: Your comments on this article are welcomed.  You can leave a comment simply by clicking on "comments" at the end of this article.  Your comments will be posted as soon as they can be reviewed.  Thanks.

Your Friend and Fellow “Silent Warrior”,

Bob Armistead

Monday, October 14, 2013


Dear Friends,

Nestled in the foothills of Crete, only 30 minutes from the Heraklion Airport and only 15 minutes from the beaches of Amoudara, are the Villas Eleftheria (meaning “Liberty”), Kalithea (meaning “Good View”), and Irini (meaning “Peace”).  The beauty and serenity of these Villas can stand alone, but one additional factor that makes them even more special is that they belong to two of our own.  The Crete Family Villas, Eleftheria, Kalithea and Irini, belong to Andrew (Andy) and Jocelyne Kerrigan.  Andy was assigned to the 2115th Communications Squadron at Iraklion Air Station from 1980 until 1985.  Andy worked atop Mount Edheri at the site better known to most of us as “Tropo”.  After retiring from the U.S. Air Force, Andy now works for the Federal Aviation Administration and Jocelyne works as a school teacher.

Andy and Jocelyne built these three villas in 2005 on the edge of the little picturesque village of Pendamodi.  It is a small, quiet village with a population of about 250 inhabitants.  On any given day, you can walk through the village and see old men passing time by playing backgammon (tavli) outside kafeneios (coffee houses) while women shop in the markets buying the freshest of vegetables and meats for the daily meals.  The only sounds that emanate from the village and the surrounding area are the bleating of sheep or goats, the occasional automobile that passes through, and the delightful cries of children playing European football (soccer).

In 2012, I had the very distinct pleasure of visiting Pendamodi and the Crete Family Villas of Eleftheria, Kalithea and Irini along with my Dutch friends, Hans and Henni, and Theo and Coby.  Jocelyne stood waiting to greet us at the door of the Villa Eleftheria.  Villa Eleftheria is situated on one level and can be easily navigated by small children and those with mobility limitations.  The interior of Villa Eleftheria reflects a warm and inviting atmosphere, accented by stone and wood and exposed beams.  There are two bedrooms and two bathrooms and can easily accommodate up to a total of six people.  This villa is well-appointed with a corner stone fireplace, satellite T.V., Wi-Fi access, DVD and CD players, a dining area and a fully equipped kitchen with a full-sized cooker, microwave oven, dishwasher, refrigerator/freezer, toaster, kettle and a coffee maker.  There is also a washing machine in one of the bathrooms.  Outside, there is a shaded terrace overlooking the private swimming pool, which is the perfect place to enjoy that morning cup of coffee or just to sit and contemplate the surrounding beauty of the vineyards and olive groves, or the hills and valleys below.

Because the other two villas, Kalithea and Irini, were occupied, we were unable to go inside; however, Jocelyne escorted us around the outside of these two beautiful villas.  Both are on two levels.  Villa Kalithea boasts of having two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and can accommodate up to six people easily.  Villa Irini is a little larger and features three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and can sleep up to eight people comfortably.  If the interiors of Villas Kalithea and Irini are anything like Villa Eleftheria, then they must also be absolutely gorgeous inside!  I might also add that Villas Kalithea and Irini each has its own private swimming pool just as does Villa Eleftheria.  And, just to make the stay more enjoyable, Crete Family Villas are situated at an elevation of 335 meters or 1,100 feet.  This makes for even lower humidity and cooler temperatures during those hot summer months!

The little village of Pendamodi reminded me of the small mountain villages that I used to visit in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when I was also stationed on Crete.  There is a relaxed atmosphere that speaks of a time gone by...a time when herds of sheep or goats sometimes blocked the roads...a time when old men sat sipping wine or raki while deftly twirling their worry beads (komboloi) through their fingers...a time when every meal was not just for eating, but a time for socializing...a time when time was not measured by the hands on a clock, but by the smiles that were etched in memories and laughter that echoed endlessly throughout the adjacent hills and valleys below.

So, when you are planning your next trip to Crete and you want to stay at a place where you can get a genuine feel for the local Cretan culture and customs, and a place that is relaxing, slower paced, and surrounded by nature, please give the Crete Family Villas serious consideration.  For more photographs of Crete Family Villas, or for additional details regarding availability and prices, please go to the following website:  And for additional information, or if you simply would like to re-establish contact with your Air Force friends, Andy and Jocelyne Kerrigan, you can E-Mail them at the following address:  I am sure they would love to hear from any of you who might remember them from when they were assigned to Iraklion Air Station.  When you contact them, just tell them that “Bob Armistead” sent you!

"Click" on any photo below to obtain a larger image.

Your Friend and Fellow “Silent Warrior”,

Bob Armistead

Jocelyne Kerrigan stands waiting to greet us
just outside the Villa Eleftheria.
View of the Villa Eleftheria.


Swim or just relax by the private pool
 of Villa Eleftheria.
Spacious Master bedroom with double
bed in the Villa Eleftheria.


Shower and sink off the
master bedroom of the
Villa Eleftheria.
    Two single beds provide comfort
    in the second bedroom of
    Villa Eleftheria.
The full bath provides all amenities
in the Villa Eleftheira.
Whether you are a "sometimes" cook
or a full-blown chef, you'll find
everything you need in the well-
equipped kitchen in the
Villa Eleftheria.


The ever-consummate hostess,
Jocelyne Kerrigan entertains guests
in the spacious living area
of the Villa Eleftheria.
The beautiful fireplace in
the corner of the living
area of the Villa Eleftheri

Lovely Villa Kalithea waits for you
at the end of a beautifully
landscaped path.
Villa Kalithea offers that rare
balance between convenience
and privacy.


Villa Kalithea sleeps
 six comfortably and
boasts of its own private
swimming pool.

Beautiful Villa Irini sleeps up to 8
guests comfortably and is situated
on gorgeous landscaped grounds.

Just one of the many captivating views
enjoyed by guests at the
Crete Family Villas!
You can swim, relax at poolside, or
simply enjoy the distant vistas from
the Villa Irini.