I’d like to share a story with you all, a personal story of Patriotism. For those of you who know me, perhaps you may have noticed that I have a great sense of pride for our great country, and for those who have served. I am not a Marine, I am not a Veteran and I am not a writer. I am an immigrant, who, in every sense of the word, is an American, a proud one at that. After retiring my job as a florist, I became a proud member of Operation Jersey Cares which led me to become an Associate member of the L/CPL Robert J. Slattery MCL and to join in the many fine events the League does to “Pay it forward”.
So where is this story going?
I’d like to tell you about my father, Manfred Kirchner who immigrated to the US in 1962 from Germany. His passion to start a new life with his young family was ignited after befriending US Army Colonel Virgil Daley, a Chaplain and his family, who were stationed in Germany. Their friendship was instantaneous and lasted a lifetime. My father’s initial intention was to join the US Air Force, however was denied because he had a wife and child. However, plan B was such that he had a sponsor, got a job, bought a car, rented a house and only after establishing himself, sent for me and my mother, Brigitte, months later. We arrived in the NYC harbor on board the RMS Hanseatic in August 1963.
My father, who was trained as a tool and die maker, became inspired to make a ship model while installing flame cutting machinery in the Naval shipyards of Newport News, VA. With that, he began his project in 1967, constructing a working model of the USS Forestall from scratch, using plans from a 1/200 scale model. Every detail was thought out, planned and meticulously implemented. His 15 job relocations consumed so much of his free time that he did not complete his labor of love until 2011. On his 72nd Birthday, on the shores of Lake Norman NC, in front of 150 friends and family, the USS Forrestal II was finally christened and launched. She sailed proudly and stoically, without fail, as her “captain” looked on. Mission Accomplished!
On a side note, I am proud to say that my father’s one and only grandson, Steven Weippert, is currently a captain in our US Air Force.