Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif. --
The United States Air and Space Forces strive to maintain an environment which fosters resilient families and strengthens relationships with allies and partners. Members of the 30th Security Forces Squadron definitely showed how much they care for little Evie Winter and her family when they rolled up with lights blinking and sirens wailing to wish her a long-anticipated happy birthday at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif. July 24, 2021.
Royal Air Force Sergeant Stephen Winter, 18th Space Control Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of department of training and his wife Rebecca Winter moved from the United Kingdom with their daughter Evie to Vandenberg Space Force Base to work with the 18th Space Control Squadron at Vandenberg Space Force Base. This is part of a family exchange program which develops close integration of operational and training objectives between allies.
One day in October, four-year old Evie Winter asked her parents to roll down their car’s rear window as the family was checking in at the gate. To everyone’s surprise, she said to the guard, “Hi my name is Evie, what’s your name? Would you like to come to my birthday party? It’s next July.” What at first seemed like an innocent comment from a friendly child became a routine that continued for months. Over time, many guards would welcome her by name and even ask about plans for the party.
Rebecca Winter saw how much this would mean to Evie and made invitations for her to give the gate guards. Unsure of the response they would get on the day of the party, they were surprised when defenders arrived.
“It was so shocking when we saw multiple patrol cars rolling into the car park, like something out of a film. Evie was astounded! They put the lights on, they stayed and had some food, and one of them even gave her a patch,” Stephen Winter said.
Rebecca Winter posted some pictures of Evie and the security forces members on her Facebook and was very surprised it got over 800 likes and 250 shares.
Airman First Class Ty Hendrickson, 30th Security Forces Squadron response force leader attended the event and said, “The post was so wholesome and cool to see that I just kept looking at it throughout the day. It’s nice to hear that others showed up to the party as well even out of uniform. We had all been looking forward to it. Evie’s really cool, and she loves cops, so we wanted to make it special for her.”
Hendrickson wasn’t aware the family was from overseas until the story came out. “When a family comes through and says they feel safer with you working at the gate, it really makes it all worth it in my opinion” he said. The defenders of Vandenberg have definitely made an impression on the Winter family and set the bar high when it comes to representing the United States on a global scale.
“Coming from the UK, we didn’t know anything about the area, and it was a little bit unnerving,” Stephen Winter said. “So we figured on base we are safer and we would have security forces protecting us on a daily basis. Now having this link with them is such a heartwarming thing. We don’t think they get enough credit for the things that they do and how amazing these young men and women are. It’s ok coming here and being involved in work on an operation level, but it’s got to be more than that. Communities, families, and the awareness that we’re all one big family in whatever we’re going up against is just as important as being able to do a job operationally.”
There is an old proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Perhaps it is also true that sometimes it’s the child that brings the village closer together.