The Vandenbergs originally came from the country of Bergh in the southern Netherlands. Count Hendrik vandenBERGH joined in the 1572 revolt of the Dutch against their Spanish overlords as the leader of a band of German mercenaries in the service of William of Orange. Unfortunately, Count Hendrik switched sides later in the conflict and signed on with Philip II of Spain. Thus, when the Dutch revolt proved a permanent success, count Hedrik was forced to relocate to the Spanish Netherlands (Belgium). In the mid 17th century the Vandenbergs sailed to the Dutch area of the New World and settled on the Hudson River. In the 1690’s my Vandenberg ancestor married the daughter of two French Huguenots who settled in New Amsterdam(New York City), adding a French element to the family. Later on, a Vandenberg married a Bishop from Massachusetts whose family had arrived on the Mayflower. The Vandenbergs contributed several soldiers to the Union during the Civil War, and I have the wallet and daguerreotype of one in his 56th N.Y. Regimental uniform. More recent Vandenbergs include my great-uncle Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Grand Rapids, Michigan, who was Senate Majority Leader in the 1930’s and 1940’s. My grandfather, Hoyt Sanford Vandenberg was a West Point grad who commanded the 9th Air Force in WWII and later became Chief of Staff of the Air Force and Director of the early CIA. Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is named for him. My father, Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Jr., is also a West Point grad and Air Force fighter pilot who retired as a Major General.
My mother, Sue, is the daughter of General Leon W. Johnson, another West Point grad who commanded the 44th Bomb Group (B-24’s) in the 8th Air Force during WWII. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for leadership on the August 1943 Ploesti oil-field raid. General Johnson retired a four star General and lived in McClean, Virginia until his death in 1998. My grandmother, Lucille Johnson, provides me with my southern connections. Her mother outlived three husbands, one of whom, an engineer, disappeared in Mexico while engaged in mining work. Because my great grandmother belonged to the D.A.R., we have good records of her ancestors, among whom are: William Clark, co-leader of the Lewis and Clark expedition; “Lighthorse” Harry Lee, American Revolutionary Cavalry leader; U.S. President and General Zachary Taylor; and Confederate Generals Richard Taylor and Robert E. Lee.