Former US tracking station staff back for golden jubilee reunion


13-July-2013

The celebration on the beach at Beau Vallon for the former personnel of the 'famous golf balls' at La Misère brought friends and relatives of the American personnel together for an American styled barbecue.

After an address by Captain Mike Hettinger, once deputy commander of the US Indian Ocean Station in Seychelles, the Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St Ange was invited to address the gathering.

"Welcome back home," Minister St Ange said to the visiting Americans who had worked and managed the Indian Ocean Station for the USA.
"You lived here, you worked here and for many years you had made Seychelles home. Today as you gather together to celebrate 50 years since this American station was installed in Seychelles, I have the pleasure to say ‘Welcome Home’ to you all. Many of you had captivated the hearts of our islanders and many married them. Seychelles, like America, can look back on the years of your presence in Seychelles as good years and this is clearly demonstrated by you flying to our islands to mark this 50th anniversary with a special reunion," Minister St Ange said.

When he addressed the party, Captain Hettinger reminded everyone of the importance of the Indian Ocean Station in Seychelles.

"It was an important station helping to keep peace in the world. Situated virtually on the equator, this station tracked the American satellites and helped in the political transition of the time," Captain Hettinger said.

In the invitation letter for the reunion party at Beau Vallon, Vicky Lanza, one of the organisers, writes:- "This weekend a group of Americans who had worked at the Station return to celebrate that life…and it will be an honour if you join us on the beach to meet them and listen to their tales!  I was eleven years old but remember the excitement of seeing the new road at La Misère being built, the casual T-shirt that changed our way of living, the little fast sports cars and motor bikes, our family beach bungalows at Beau Vallon accommodating the first arrivals and House No 1 (now La Perle Noire Restaurant) being the 1st Mess Hall for the catering done by Eveline Mancham. The generosity of the Yankees to everyone and our people welcoming them openly and sharing our warmth and hospitality. So many stories to tell…"

Karen Pilling, a Seychelles tourism ambassador in the USA, was also congratulated for her work in putting this Indian Ocean Station 50th anniversary reunion together.
The organisers are hoping to work on gathering pictures for a grand exhibition in the near future.

Captain Hettinger also donated a collection of pictures to the Seychelles archives as well as a short film on the setting up of the station in Seychelles.

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