[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story continues our series Benelux Family Legacy, which features multigenerational stories from 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.]
CHIÈVRES AIR BASE, Belgium – “Look at this table: I worked on it! And look at those marks on the floor: these marks are mine!”
Ten years after the end of his adventure at Chièvres Air Base, Alain Trésignies returned with lots of memories in mind. The workshop at the Directorate of Public Works is like a second house for him.
From March 1977 to July 2011, Alain worked for U.S. Army Garrison Benelux, most of the time as a sheet metal worker at Chièvres Air Base, for what has now become DPW.
“Philippe Poriau was doing his military service, so I replaced him in 1977,” said Alain. “When Philippe Poriau came back, I continued to work temporary until September 79. I worked during 4 months for the Brugelette Sucrerie, and then I came back on the base as a mobile equipment driver for DPW. In 1980, I got a final contract as a sheet metal worker, and I never left until July 2011.”
Alain still has many stories to tell about his career at Chièvres Air Base. Today, he is listening to the stories of his son, François Trésignies. Since 2019, François has been working for DPW, at the same place and in the same position as his father. And these are not the only similarities.
“I am working with Michaël Lemager, who worked before with my father,” said François. “Also, I replaced Philippe Poriau (retired) as my father.”
The story could be summed up like this, but Alain and François are not the two only family members who have a history with U.S. Army Garrison Benelux and tenant unit partners.
“The first person who worked for U.S. Army Garrison Benelux is my step-dad René Deleenher,” said Alain. “He was already working for U.S. Army Garrison Benelux since 1967 at the self-help store. Ten years later, he helped me to be part of the organization.”
After René Deleenher, eight people of the same family, including Alain Trésignies, followed the same path.
“There were Fernand Godrie, René Deleenher’s brother-in-law; Franz Bossart, René Deleenher’s son-in-law; Roger Ribeaucourt, René Deleenher’s nephew; Christian Thyssen, René Deleenher’s son-in-law; and Ginette Deleenher, my wife and René Deleenher’s daughter,” said Alain. “We can also add Yves Dubois. He was my godfather.”
Today, François and his cousin Grégory Van Derstichelen continue the legacy.
“Working here is not a coincidence for me,” said François. “I am where my mother and my father worked before me. We all worked at hangar 6! When I was 7 years, I came on the base during the holidays to see my father working. Then, during my studies, I worked with my father as a volunteer. My first experience as a sheet metal worker was here. I learned the trade here.”
“My mother died in 2011,” continued François. “When I go to the office where she worked, or when I am working in the same workshop as my dad, I always feel something special.”
After all this years, Alain and François have many stories to tell.
“During the holidays, I had a pass for one month because I always wanted to come on base and see my parents,” said François. “I remember that one day a sergeant gave his cap to my father who gave it to me. I was so proud. I still have it.”
“I could tell so many things,” said Alain. “For example, I am proud to have participated in the contruction of the bell tower. Today, many things have changed, and it is not the same way to work. I often talk about that with François.”
François loves his work with the Army, and he appreciates the atmosphere.
“When I was a child, I was impressed to come here,” he said. “Today, I’m still very impressed and happy to work for the Army. I am where I wanted to be.”
Fifty-five years ago, René Deleenher wrote the first pages of a book that will probably have many other chapters.
“My grandfather and my father worked here,” said Francois. “My son already came on the base, like I did with my father when I was a child. Maybe one day, my son will do like me. We will see.”
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 organizations. Further stories like this on the legacy created through the garrison’s multigenerational workforce will continue to be published every Wednesday for a few more weeks.