RAF EDZELL REUNION
by: Ken Cadran
An American and a Scot were walking the site of the Highland Games in
Montrose, Scotland. It was the day following the 2002 Edzell Reunion. The
American, who had previously been observing the size and beauty of the
Clydesdale horses, wanted to know more about the animals. He opened the
conversation: "Dave, what do you know about the Clydesdales?" Dave, being
the epitome of Scottish wit, immediately replied: "I know that they have a leg
on each corner!" Such a blend of sharp intellect, shrewd wit and open
character is what sets the Scottish people apart from their fellow man.
In 1997, Naval Security Group Activity, Edzell, Scotland was decommissioned.
That same year in Bethesda, Maryland a reunion was held of former members
of the base, more commonly known as RAF Edzell. Five years later on
August 3, 2002 at the East Links in Montrose, Scotland, 363 "Edzellites" assembled
under a marquee. Of that number, 198 Americans, coming from as far as
California, with one individual arriving from Bahrain, combined to dine, dance
and renew friendships. Betty Morton, former Community Relations Advisor
at RAF Edzell, and Janet and Fred Demech of Oakton, Virginia were among the
primary coordinators of this unforgettable event.
Piper Mark Lumgair was on hand to serenade the guests as they arrived. Mr.
John Smart, Lord Lieutenant of Kincardineshire and a former Chairman of the
Scottish-American Community Relations Committee, and Chairman of the
Reunion Committee, welcomed the guests on behalf of the Scottish hosts.
Captain Fred Demech, USN (Ret), one of the former base commanding officers
present, provided the reply on behalf of the Americans. Grace was provided by
Captain P.S. Spain, CHC, USN (Ret) who also served at the base.
In 1847, Queen Victoria took lease on an estate on the banks of Loch Loggan.
On her arrival, she wrote in her diary: “Alas!. The country is fine, but the
weather is most dreadful.” Conversely, her husband, Prince Albert wrote
in his diary: “The country is full of beauty, of a severe and grand character
...and the air remarkably pure and light... . The people are more natural, and
are marked by that honesty and sympathy which always distinguishes the
inhabitants of mountainous countries.”
If one has served in Scotland, one can agree that prominent to visiting this land
is the friendliness of the people. Through association at work and social events,
strong bonds developed. American service personnel and their families who served
in this land of the haggis, tartans, short bread, whiskey, bag pipes, highland dancing
and the tug-o’war, were able to experience the spirit of these people. The 2002
Edzell Reunion was a time to renew friendships and re-experience the flavor of
this land called Scotland.
The day following the reunion, the annual Highland Games (which can be traced
back at least one thousand years) were held adjacent to the marquee. The activities
consisted of caber tossing, tug-o’war, piping contests, heavy horse display, cycling
races, field events, dog show, highland dancing, and the crowning of the
60th Rose Queen. Pipe bands marched from the Town House to the Games,
providing the unique sound of a bagpipe band. The visiting Americans were
publicly welcomed at the beginning of the Games.
A welcome it was. A joyful time it became. A fond memory it shall be.