Remembering our Gold Star families

  • Published
  • By Christa D'Andrea
  • Profession of Arms Center of Excellence

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- As a tribute to the families of fallen Airmen, the Profession of Arms Center of Excellence released today its newest Heritage Today video, Gold Star Families.

Gold Star families are survivors of active duty personnel killed as a result of combat or terrorism, on or after, Sept. 18, 1947. The term “Gold Star Family” originates with service flags. According to Title 36 of the United States Code, starting in World War I, American families would display service flags on homes to signify military service. A blue star signifies a deployed service member, a silver star means a family member was injured in battle and a gold star means a family member has paid the ultimate sacrifice.

According to the Air Force Forever Families program at the Air Force Personnel Center, there are more than 2,900 Air Force Gold Star family members.

Voiced by Linda Ambard, Gold Star spouse, the video was developed to remind Airmen, and specifically commanders, of the sacrifices these individuals have made; to inform and educate about the Gold Star program; and to ensure the family members will always remain a part of the Air Force.

“Being selected to be the Gold Star voice for the Air Force means more than words can convey. Since before I heard those words that destroyed my life as I knew it, the media knew of Phil’s death. The media, and at times the military, only saw Phil as the military man he was. He was more than that for me. He was my best friend, my husband of 23.5 years, and the father of my children, “Linda said. “All of us who walk this terrible journey of military loss have lost more than the military or the world can see. This opportunity is a chance to show the world the rest of the story. It is a chance for me to speak for those who are coming after me in this journey, and it is an opportunity for me to educate my military brothers and sisters.”

Maj. Philip Ambard was one of eight U.S. service members killed on April 27, 2011, when an Afghan pilot opened fire at an airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Linda is currently a Violence Prevention Integrator at the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and is active in the Gold Star program.

In a message to commanders, March 15, General David Goldfein, Air Force Chief of Staff said, “Of all the important undertakings as commanders, taking care of our families of our fallen – our Gold Star family members, is at the top.”

AFPC and the Air Force has made several steps to increase its efforts to focus on families -- one being that Gold Star family members can now receive an installation access card with a gold star on the back. The card allows family members access to the installation to meet with their Airman & Family Readiness Center program specialist, attend Chapel services, visit personnel and attend base/squadron events, to name a few.

Goldfein also stated in the memo to commanders that, “we should take every opportunity to honor the service of those Airmen who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and continue to provide support to their family members.”

 “The Air Force means everything to me,” said Linda, whose four of five children serve in the military. “I walked away from teaching because I could not lose my Air Force family at the same time I lost my husband. “

Since Major Ambard’s death, Linda has written a book and donated all the proceeds to the Tragedy Assistance Program, speaks on military loss and the cost of military service, mentors widow or families going through loss, and teaches about resiliency and positive trauma growth.

She says she needs to be part of the changes the Air Force is making in this program and is “proud to be a part of this family.”

The Heritage Today video series is designed to reinforce the Core Values through the lens of history; and to inspire, and promote critical thinking and group discussion. For more information about PACE and the Heritage Today series go to www.airman.af.mil.