Local soldier enjoys life while stationed in the tropical paradise of Guam

Most people are drawn to the tiny Pacific island of Guam for the warm weather, pristine coral reefs and lush tropical flora. Japanese honeymooners flock there. This U.S. territory is closer to Japan, the Philippines and Australia than to its closest American neighbor, Hawaii. Because of its location in the western Pacific and west of the international dateline, it’s the first place on American soil to see the sun rise each morning.

But for the son of a Batesville couple, this tropical paradise is the backdrop to what is shaping up to be one of the most strategic and important staging areas for the U.S Air Force in the Pacific region. Air National Guard Senior Airman Kurt D. Waechter, son of John and Linda Waechter of North County Road 650 East, Batesville, is helping transform this sleepy outpost into one of national importance for U.S. military strategy in the 21st century.

Waechter is a computer security manager for the 36th Communication Squadron. “My job is to assist with managing the computer security program. I help make sure that the computers and other information systems are secure and properly maintained,” said Waechter, who graduated in 2004 from North Decatur High School, Greensburg.

Andersen Air Force Base is no stranger to strategic importance, though. The base was created as a staging area and airstrip in 1944 to allow B-29 bombers to attack mainland Japan during the latter part of the World War II. The base has grown tremendously in importance since then, mushrooming to over 15,000 airmen with constant B-52 missions over North Vietnam during the early ‘70’s. Since Desert Shield/Desert Storm in the early ‘90’s, Andersen has become a deployment mecca for B-52, B-1 and B-2 bomber units focusing on a new mission - the global war on terror.

“As a deployed member, it has been interesting to see so many other deployed members. I have been learning a lot about my job in the active duty environment. With the increased number of personnel deploying here, my job becomes more difficult because, as soon as we get them trained on security issues, they are gone,” Waechter noted.

Off duty, Waechter and fellow airmen are privy to a literal paradise. On a tropical island 30 miles long and nine miles wide, airmen can find white sandy beaches ringed by pristine coral reefs, crystal-clear water teeming with exotic marine life, a balmy tropical climate and gentle trade winds. Add a slew of restaurants, resorts and shopping areas and it’s easy to see why Guam has become the Air Force’s best kept secret.

“Guam is like a very sprawling small town It is very tropical here which lends to why the locals have big, fun filled barbecues on the weekends called fiestas. Also, due to this type of climate, you will be hard pressed not to see a gecko climbing on the outside of buildings,” Waechter commented. “During my off duty time, I like to play my guitar and get out and see everything that the island has to offer.”
(This story was submitted to our newspaper by the Army and Air Force Hometown News Service, San Antonio, TX.)

ABOVE: Airmen from the 2nd Maintenance Squadron are shown doing a phase inspection on a B-52 Stratofortress aircraft here. Andersen Air Force Base in Guam has become a deployment mecca for B-52, B-1 and B-2 bomber units focusing on the war on terror. BELOW: Air National Guard Senior Airman Kurt D. Waechter of Batesville, is a computer security manager stationed on the island of Guam.