Fred W. Saunders and Pennie L. Saunders are celebrating 60 years of marriage as of Nov. 30.
They started this journey on Nov. 30, 1960, when Fred and Pennie were married after he joined the United States Air Force Oct. 31, 1959. Fred and Pennie were stationed at Lincoln Air Force Base (AFB), Nebraska, from April 1960 to March 1965. Lincoln AFB was a member of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) providing nuclear strike capabilities.
After Lincoln AFB, Fred and Pennie were then stationed at Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa. This unit at Kadena was also under the command of SAC, and was the first SAC combat unit assigned to the Vietnam war zone. Pennie was pregnant with their first child, Lindylou, and she was born on June 9, 1965. Pennie and Lindy traveled to Kadena to be with Fred. His unit was responsible for all the refueling of combat planes going to and coming from Vietnam. Fred traveled to Thailand to their forward operating base because it was closer to the war zone and this location provided a quick turnaround of the tanker planes. Fred Jr. joined the family and was born at Kadena April 13, 1967.
Fred was reassigned to Headquarters SAC, Omaha, Neb., and was responsible for manning the missile bases of SAC so they could remain combat ready during the Cold War. While at Offutt Air Force Base, April was born Feb. 9, 1969, and soon followed Janella born Sept. 30, 1970.
The Saunders clan departed Offutt for McClellan Air Force Base, California, and Fred was responsible for the manning of our Air Borne Early Warning Unit (AWACS) and these flew up and down our West and East Coast to detect any incoming war threat. The AWACS had a forward operating base in Iceland to prevent Russia from coming across the north hemisphere.
Rosa was born May 9, 1974, and this completed the Saunders family. Fred then was assigned to Kunsan Air Force Base, Korea (PACAF), and was promoted to the rank of Master Sergeant. Upon Fred’s return to the United States he was assigned to Scott Air Force Base, Illinois (MAC).
Fred retired from the Air Force Nov 1, 1979, and returned home to Blackfoot. Pennie went to work for Basic American Foods for 15 years. Fred also joined Basic for 10 years. His son Fred Jr. followed in his dad’s footsteps and joined the Air Force and served 26 years and retired with the rank of Major. He is currently in Afghanistan as a contractor and has been there for seven years. Lindy is living in Gooding, while April is living in Blackfoot with Janella living in Jerome and Rosa is living in Shoshone. This 60 years have produced 19 grandchildren along with six great-grandchildren that have blessed the Saunders clan.
Pennie loves this statement and is her favorite: When we get to the end of our journey together, the house we had, the cars we drove, the things we possessed won’t matter. What will matter is I had you and you had me!
Fred and Pennie served and sacrificed for our country serving in the military for 20 years. Pennie kept the family going while Fred was deployed around the globe. As a military wife she did an amazing job during long absences serving both as father and mother and the children will attest to testing her patience. But the results speak for themselves and Pennie did a “job well done” raising the five children.