Lindbergs: Military dedication through generations

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sondra Escutia
  • 49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
In the archives of military history, Lindbergh is a famous name.
Inside the gates of Holloman, the Lindberg name is a familiar one, and the names are directly related.

The famed Charles Lindbergh was a 20th century aviator, a prize winning author and ground-breaking inventor. He was also a well-known Army pilot, who received the Medal of Honor for his courage and skills as a navigator, and it seems his valor and passion for flying has passed down through the generations.

Charles Lindberg's second cousin, retired Lt. Col. Robert Lindberg, was the father of Col. Donald Lindberg, 44th Fighter Group commander, who is, in turn, the uncle of 2nd Lt. Jennifer Lindberg of the 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron -- both stationed at Holloman. 

And they were not the first.

Lieutenant Lindberg's father, then-2nd Lt. Carl Lindberg, spent his first assignment as an F-15A pilot in the 8th Fighter Squadron here.

It could be that the military spirit of a true American aviation hero has been passed on to today's Lindbergs, but the inspiration for Holloman's Lindbergs to join the military lies heavily in the hands of retired Colonel (Robert) Lindberg.

The Air Force family

People often consider the Air Force a big family; however, for the Lindberg's, the Air Force actually is their family. All three of Colonel (Robert) Lindberg's sons joined the Air Force as pilots, while his two daughters married Air Force pilots.

Although her parents grew up as "military brats," traveling the globe with their father, Lieutenant Lindberg experienced a different type of military lifestyle. Growing up, she was only a military brat for three years until her father became a Reservist. She admits that back then, she did not know much about the active-duty way-of-life.

"I heard all about the family and who was doing what in the military and that was always fascinating to me," she said. "I just remember how stable it always seemed knowing my father could always do something he was proud of that could keep the family fed and keep the family safe."

Being a lot like her father, she said, she knew she'd enjoy the Air Force and later decided to embark on her own military journey when she realized that she didn't know how to pay for school.

"[My father] told me he did something called ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps], went to a civilian school, got pretty much all of it paid for and then got a job at the end. I thought about it for a long time and I thought 'All right! Great deal!'" she said.

Lieutenant Lindberg's father also had a great impact on Colonel (Donald) Lindberg's decision to become a pilot.

"[Lieutentant Lindberg's] dad, my brother, was a huge influence on me going into the Air Force," he said. "Growing up, I wasn't that interested in flying. I wanted to be a dentist like my dad until my brothers Carl and Larry would come home on leave and talk about flying. I got interested in that and went out and got my flying license."

He then applied for the Air Force Academy and served on active duty until 1991.

"The entire time I've been in the Air Force -- since 1979 -- it's been under the tutelage of my brothers or brothers -in-law. They all had a big impact on my career," said Colonel Lindberg.

Maintainers vs. pilots

With her family's history of flying, it would seem the obvious career-of-choice for Lieutenant Lindberg, but this was not the case.

"I chose to not fly, but I love working on the planes," said Lieutenant Lindberg. "The flying mission is a great one, and although I'm not the one strapping into the seat, I directly support the production of those aircraft to accomplish their missions."

Colonel (Donald) Lindberg said that although she isn't a pilot, he is "absolutely proud" of her for her decision to become a maintainer.

"You can put the fighter pilot on the poster, but the aircraft mechanic is the one that makes it happen," said the colonel. "It'll be 130, 140 degrees on the ramp and they're out there sweating and turning a wrench and working on the airplane to get it to fly and to keep it maintained. They do it without complaining, they do it professionally and they do it day-in and day-out."

Knowing that his niece is one of the many keeping him safe, he joked that he may have a bit more confidence in his aircraft.

"I think it will just reinforce the cement for the faith that I have already," the colonel laughed. "I have total faith in the operations of the F-22 here at Holloman and for that matter, any aircraft I've flown in the Air Force."

Lieutenant Lindberg recently moved out to the 7th Aircraft Maintenance Unit to work on the flightline and hopes to one day launch her uncle out for a flight.

Holloman becomes home 

Both Colonel (Donald) Lindberg and Lieutenant Lindberg knew they wanted to work with the F-22A Raptor, and if only by sheer luck, they were given the opportunity to work with them here -- together.

"The Air Force is only going to buy 187 F-22s, so the odds of being an aircraft maintenance officer on the F-22 are very slim. There are only 36 F-22 reserve pilot positions out of 68,000 Reservists, so the odds of me coming here were even slimmer," Colonel (Donald) Lindberg said.

While working as a safety board investigator in the Air Force Reserves, he was approached by Lt. Gen. John Bradley, Chief of Air Force Reserve, and Maj. Gen. Thomas Coon, 10th Air Force commander.

"They approached me and asked if I would stand up the 44th Fighter Group here at Holloman," the colonel said. "I thought about it for six-and-a-half seconds and said 'Sure!'"

Around the same time, Lieutenant Lindberg was a few months short of graduating from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota when she received her orders.

"I still remember calling my mom and dad and saying 'I'm going to Holloman -- that's where you all went!' and they said, 'Guess what?! Your uncle is going too!'," the lieutenant said with a laugh.

Measuring success

Most would concur that the Lindberg family, with their vast military family history dating back to Charles Lindbergh himself, is a successful one.

"Looking at the choices my family has made and where they've gotten because of those choices was a big motivator for me in my decision to join the military," Lieutenant Lindberg said. "I'd like to say that on the Lindberg side of the family, everyone is very successful -- both personally and professionally."

Colonel (Donald) Lindberg, who has his own theory of success, measures it a little differently.

"This past December, my father passed away. I had to gather up the kids and we all made the funeral in Louisville, Ky.," he said.

Colonel (Robert) Lindberg retired to Belen, N.M., in 1971 after serving in the Air Force for 21 years. His direct influence inspired his five children and five of his grandchildren to serve their country.

During the flag folding ceremony at his funeral, all of the family members who were in the military formed a half-circle and the flag was passed to each person until it reached the end and was presented to his mother.

"It was pretty impressive to see all the military members who were, what I think, a legacy of a man who served as the original Air Force member in the family," he said. "Success is the fact that at the end of the memorial service, I could look out in the crowd, and even though we'd all served in the military, some still in today, all of them are still married to their first wife, their kids are well-adjusted and a lot of them are serving as well."

Success, in his opinion, is more than just serving in the military -- it's being able to serve and find time for family. In the Lindberg Family, that theory has certainly proven true.

"To me, success in serving the military is doing your mission and at the same time, balancing that family time," said Colonel (Donald) Lindberg. "If you have a spouse, that's important and if you're going to have kids, raise your kids. That, to me, is a successful military career -- to serve, serve well and retire to your family. You all go through it together and end up at the finish line together."

There's no doubt that family comes first to the Lindbergs -- to include the Air Force family -- one that has been passed down through the generations since the early days of the service. They truly are dedicated to the mission.

Charles Lindbergh once stated, "Love needs no logic for its mission." That mission could be the one to maintain a loving and devoted relationship with those often considered the "backbone" of the military; the military family, and to the Lindbergs, that is the very heart of success.