Patricia Campo, Alessandro Ricci
Patricia Campo, left, a management analyst with the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation at U.S. Army Garrison Benelux, poses with her son Alessandro Ricci, painter for the Directorate of Public Works at USAG Benelux, March 22, 2022 at Chièvres Air Base, Belgium. (U.S. Army photo by Christophe Morel, USAG Benelux Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: Christophe Morel) VIEW ORIGINAL

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story continues our series Benelux Family Legacy, which features multigenerational stories from the U.S. Army Garrison Benelux and tenant unit partners. This series explores the people who comprise the garrison and delves into the legacy they have created in the Benelux.]

CHIEVRES, Belgium – When you look at Patricia Campo and Alessandro Ricci, it’s easy to see that the mother and her son feel proud of each other. For two years now, Patricia and Alessandro have worked at the same place and for U.S. Army Garrison Benelux.

Patricia is a management analyst for the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, but she did many different things before getting this position.

“I went to the SHAPE International School,” she said. “Then I became a volunteer at the SHAPE Hospital because I wanted to speak foreign languages. After that, I found a job at the SHAPE Hospital, where I climbed the ladder.

“After nine years, the SHAPE Hospital became a clinic, and a male nurse, with whom I worked at the hospital hired me at the clinic,” Patricia continued. “That’s why I came to Chièvres in 1991, and I never left.”

Alessandro has less experience with the U.S. Army. After seven years as a painter for a company, he heard that a job was available at Chièvres Air Base.

“I applied directly,” he said. “I had an interview, and they called me in the evening to tell me that I could start the next day. That was in February 2020. I did not hesitate; I took the job.”

Working for the Army is a family tradition for Patricia and Alessandro.

“I am an Army brat,” said Patricia. “I was born in Germany. Then we went to Brunssum for six years before going to Evere and SHAPE.”

Alessandro also studied at SHAPE when he was a child. Also, his paternal grandfather was a general in the Italian army.

“That’s actually how I met Alessandro’s father, at the SHAPE International School,” said Patricia. “When you say that you are Italian, people may think that your father came to work in a mine, but it’s not my case.”

When Alessandro arrived in Bldg. 20005 for the first time, Patricia took some time to introduce her son to the other employees.

“I was so proud to know that Alessandro would work here,” she said. “He brought a light. He has an eye for details. I received a lot of compliments for him, and I was so happy to learn that people appreciate his work.”

“When I told people that Patricia was my mom, people were surprised,” said Alessandro. “It’s great to meet the people with whom she worked all her life. Sometimes people tell me some stories about her. I love it.”

Even if Alessandro never worked for the U.S. Army before, this new world was not completely unknown for him because he knows the story of his mother.

“Coming here was obvious for me,” he said. “For example, I participated in some organization days at Caserne Daumerie when I was a child, and I still have some memories. I remember her colleagues, the building, the atmosphere during events. One day, there was a little contest, and we had to put the firefighter’s clothes on as quickly as possible. I won the contest, and an article has been published. My mum still has it.”

Of memories like these from organizational days, Alessandro has many.

“I remember that sometimes the military police Soldiers could pretend to put people in jail,” he said. “They did it with my grandfather. The MPs came to the table, they handcuffed my grandfather.”

Patricia and Alessandro have very different duties, but they have the same intention to help others.

“When I have to work in the headquarters or the barracks, I try to bring the same service,” said Alessandro. “I do my best to put the incoming people in the best conditions. Sometimes it’s not big things, but having a certain comfort is very important when you come from afar. Also, I take English lessons to be more fluent in English. I do it because I love talking with American people. It’s something I can use when I work.”

“I love to bring help and assistance, especially for children,” Patricia said.

Patricia and Alessandro did not have a lot of opportunities to do things together at Chièvres Air Base due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they hope to have more opportunities before Patricia’s retirement.

“I have lived all my life in the military environment, and knowing that my son is pursuing my path is a source of great pride for me,” said Patricia.

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This series, Benelux Family Legacy, will continue to explore the many stories and experiences from the people who make up U.S. Army Garrison Benelux and its tenant units. Further stories like this on the legacy created through the garrison’s multigenerational workforce are scheduled to be published every Wednesday for the next few weeks.