Camp Wehinahpay

Camp Wehinahpay, New Mexico

Camp Wehinahpay,
New Mexico

In the 1960’s, military brats made good Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. I was a Cub Scout in Arizona, a Webelo in Sequin, Texas and a Boy Scout in El Paso, Texas.

A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

Every Friday night from November 1964 to January 1966 found me attending Boy Scouts. I learned many life skills. I learned many skills I used in the US Army. It was fun spending time with the other boys. It was exciting hiking and camping every month. I still remember the Boy Scout Oath or Promise:

On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

In the fall of 1965 my troop went camping in the mountains of southern New Mexico at Camp Wehinahpay Boy Scouts Camp, 319 Potato Canyon Road, Sacramento, NM 88347. We road in US Air Force provided transport vehicles from Biggs Air Force Base to the camp.

I earned my totem chip there. It gave me the right to carry a knife and hatchet. We learned compass skills, how to pitch a tent and prepare it for rain. We needed that rain preparation as it rained on us the first couple of nights. We had bears come snooping around the tents and camp another night. I remember smelling them as the walked and brushed up against my tent. I hid in my sleeping bag.

In the evening, we sat around the campfire singing Kumbaya and other folk songs. I had played the guitar since I was nine years old. I brought my six string acoustical on the camping trips. The scout leaders transported it for me where I didn’t have to carry it. Playing the guitar made me “cool”. I enjoyed the attention and adoration.

One of the best parts of camping was my dad being one of the sponsors. He was the smartest and coolest dad ever. I’ll tell about camping as a Boy Scout in the deep snow during the winter another in another post.

The Boy Scout Motto is Be Prepared! Boy Scout Slogan is do a good turn daily.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

I Believed I Could Fly

Superman

In 1956, my father returned from a one-year tour of duty in Turkey. Our family moved to Greenville, South Carolina. The Unites States Air Force stationed dad at Donaldson Air Force Base, a C-124 airfield that emphasized air transport and called itself the “Airlift Capital of the World”.

My first memories are from living at 201 Maco Terrace in Greenville from 1956 – 1958. That was also the first house my parents owned.

My favorite TV show during those days was Superman. Superman always began, “Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Look, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman! … He fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way!”

In 1956 and 1957 I would run around the house with a towel for a cape and wearing only my brief undies pretending I was Superman. I would have my arms stretched out in front of me, my head down as I was flying around the living room and kitchen.

One evening I decided I would try to fly. I got on the couch and then stood on the arm of the sofa. Suddenly I jumped with arms outstretched.

Instead of flying, I feel like a rock. My forehead found the corner of the coffee table. I didn’t fly but instead received a big cut. We had to get in the car and drive to the emergency room at Donaldson AFB. The wound was so severe that blood was flowing from my forehead into my eyes where I couldn’t see.

I asked my mother if they would get me a seeing-eye dog if I went blind. Suddenly, the laughter filled the car. My parents were laughing at me.

The doctor also chuckled as I received the fifteen stitches to stop the bleeding as mother retold the story. I have heard the seeing-eye dog story for over fifty years.

The happy ending was I got stitches, didn’t go blind, and learned I couldn’t fly. Growing up a military brat was a never-ending adventure.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

Armed Forces Day 1965

Armed Forces Day 1965 holds special memories for me. It was a big deal for a military brat. I was living on Biggs Air Force Base in El Paso, Texas.

Living on a USAF base was wonderful as an eleven and twelve years old boy. I had so many other boys my age to play with. Boy Scouts was a big deal to me in 1965. I loved wearing the uniform, going hiking, camping, and our community action projects.

Armed Forces Day 1965 was a community action project for the Boy Scout Troop I belonged to that year. We went on the flight line (the tarmac and runway). We touched the airplanes. We went inside some of the airplanes.  It was the adventure of a lifetime for a boy.

In May 1965, the television show Twelve O’clock High was big on TV. It had B-17s airplanes on it. We had a B-17 present that Saturday for Armed Forces Day. Allowed to sit in the gunner turrets, sit at the radio, and sit in both the pilot and co-pilots seats I felt like I was a star on Twelve O’clock High. At the end of the day, they took some of us Boy Scouts up in the B-17. I felt like I was in heaven.

B-17 at Biggs Air Force Base, El Paso, TX

B-17 at Biggs Air Force Base, El Paso, TX

Other airplanes I was able to go into included the B-52B Bomber and the only C-123 at the base. I did not get to go for a flight in them.

B-52B at Biggs Air Force Base on Armed Forced Day Open House

Most of the day the Boy Scouts either worked serving refreshments to the dignitaries or being the guides to move the big shots from the holding rooms to their appointed assignments.

It was one of the most fun days I ever had growing up. I was sure that day I would go to the US Air Force Academy and become a US Air Force officer. That didn’t happen. Instead, nine years later I became a US Army Officer. That is another story for another day.

Yes, it was great growing up as a military brat.


clean shavenJimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

Church and the Military Brat

Luke Air Force Base Chapel

Luke Air Force Base Chapel

I have a tough question for you. When and where do you first remember attending church services?

I told you the question was hard. No, I am not asking you to recall what you’ve been told by your mother or grandma about church attendance, but what you can remember. In my case, the year is 1960. I had just turned six years old in November 1959. In February, my family moved from Glendale, Arizona into base housing on Luke Air Force Base near Glendale.

Once on Luke AFB, I was quickly recruited and joined Cub Scouts. I can read your mind. You’re thinking, “Cub Scouts? I thought you were asking about a church.”

I’ll tie it all together, I promise. The first time I remember going to church was attending the Luke AFB chapel service on a Sunday where they recognized the Cub Scouts. We got to wear our uniforms. We sat together. The Chaplain recognized our Cub Scout Pack at church, introducing each of us and everyone politely clapped.

At the chapel, I filled out a card where they got my name, telephone number, address, and religious affiliation. For the religious affiliation, I wrote Baptist. I did that because my mother told me to.

A few days later someone called from the Luke AFB Chaplain office. They assigned me to a Sunday school class. Sunday school met at the Luke Elementary School located near my house. The Base Chapel was the other direction. It was through the main gate and at Luke AFB.

I attended Sunday School the next Sunday. My Sunday school class was almost everyone in my elementary school class. Some gave me a hard time for not attending until now.

When asked why I hadn’t been before I said I had never heard of Sunday school. When they laughed at me, I bristled up and asked why they hadn’t invited me. That shut them up.

In August 1963, I started attending Trinity Baptist Church in Seguin, Texas with my mother, brother and Uncle Lee, Aunt Leona, and their three girls. My father was in Vietnam from August 1963 to August 1964. I was never asked to join the Sunday school class or church since my family was military. When told I didn’t have have to fill out a form since my family would be moving next summer because we weren’t permanent to town. I was heartbroken. They made me feel second-class.

A year later the family was in El Paso, Texas with dad stationed at Biggs Air Force Base. There father was the Sunday school director for the Protestant Chapel. He worked with Chaplains Henry and Gurtiss. Major Henry was a Presbyterian while LTC. Gurtiss was a Lutheran. We didn’t have a Baptist chaplain.

The summer of 1965 I attended my first vacation Bible school. My mother was the director. I learned the books of the Bible in order. We used plaster of paris molds to make Bible verse plaques. We would paint the plaque and give the to our parents who would keep them until the day they died. We also made plaster of paris imprints of our hands. Vacation Bible school was fun. Again, it was the same kids in my class as at school. The best part may have been the snow cones we had for refreshments.

I would attend other Sunday schools on other military bases. It wasn’t until my dad retired from the USAF that we joined a civilian church and Sunday school. But, that is another story for another time.

Picture Source: It is in the Public Domain. Works of the United States Government are not protected by copyright and are thus in the public domain.  http://www.luke.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-130702-054.jpg


clean shavenJimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

Tumbleweed Forts & Snow Forts

Snow Fort in New Hampshire

Snow Fort in New Hampshire

In January 1966, I was digging foxholes and building forts in the desert near the military quarters my family lived in on Biggs Air Force Base located in El Paso, Texas. My friends and I would dig big holes in the sand and surround our fort with tumbleweeds and other desert vegetation.  Nature camouflaged the fort’s site from prying eyes.

While we were building our prized base, another group of kids would do the same thing building their fortress several hundred yards away in another part the desert. One team would be the American soldiers.

A second team would be the German Soldiers. Pretending it was 1942 and 1943 we would play a dismounted game of “Rat Patrol” where we chased each other around the desert. The goal was to surprise and defeat the bad guys and their leader, General Erwin Rommel.

It would be hot, sandy and lots of fun as we played Army. Many times we took home huge amounts of sand home with us in the cuffs of our turned up blue jeans and in the blue jean pockets. Sometimes we added intrigue using water balloons as hand grenades.

Just a few weeks later in February 1966 my family relocated to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Pease Air Force Base. There my role-playing and mischief continued with a new group of friends. Instead of sand, tumbleweeds, and water balloons we graduated to snow forts and an endless supply of snowballs. We would sneak up and destroy the enemy’s creation.

It would be cold, damp and lots of fun as we again played Army. This time we played pretending we were German troops on the Russian front facing the Red Army. It was sometimes confusing as we had trouble understanding how the Russians could be the good guys in this scenario. After all, this was in the middle of the Cold War, and the Russians were the Evil Soviet Empire.

Nevertheless, the fun was endless as we would dash in running and throwing snowballs. Sometimes we would ride our sleds and swoosh into action. Growing up a military brat was endless fun. The never-ending supply of kids your age made the fun that much greater.


clean shavenJimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

Mom Gets an Amateur Radio License

201 Maco Terrace Greenville, SC in 2012

201 Maco Terrace Greenville, SC in 2012

The earliest memory of this military brat has my Dad stationed at Donaldson Air Force Base. Our family lived in a small, wooden framed house located at 201 Maco Terrace in Greenville, South Carolina.

Our across the street neighbors were Don and Doris Bedford. Don was a propane route salesman. Doris was a homemaker, part-time school crossing guard, and sometime honky-tonk girl guitar player and singer. They had three children. The oldest two were daughters Donna and Cheryl. The youngest was son Dee.

Doris Bedford considerably influenced my family and me. She sang like Kitty Wells and played an electric guitar. She frequently worked at area honky-tonks performing to earn the extra dollars her family needed. She would become my Mother and I’s first guitar teacher. That is a story for another time.

Doris also held an FCC Extra Class Federal Communications Commission Amateur Radio license – K4AOH. She was an HAM. She had learned Morse code and obtained her license as a teenager during World War Two while working for the US government.

Me and my brother - 1957

Me and my brother – 1957

Mother became enamored with the possibility of talking to people around the world via Morse Code or voice on a radio. My father already held an Amateur Radio license earned through his primary military job specialty as a radar technician and secondary specialty as a radio technician. When Doris suggested Mother get her license, Dad encouraged her as well.

About this time, my Dad reenlisted in the United States Air Force, He also had a new duty assignment that transferred the family across the USA to Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona. My parents were buying the house at 201 Maco Terrace in Greenville and decided to keep it. Their thought in 1958 was to move back to South Carolina in 1967 when Dad retired from the USAF.

The transfer to Arizona motivated my mother to study harder and faster. No, she didn’t pass the tests and get her license before we left Greenville.

After we arrived and got settled in our rented house in Glendale, Arizona, Mother continued studying in hot pursuit of her HAM license. Doris Bedford introduced Mother to Ken and Gertrude Pond. They were an older couple who lived in Phoenix and both held their FCC license.

Me in 1960 at 2420 Navajo, Luke AFB, AZ

Me in front of 2420 Navajo, Luke AFB, AZ in 1960.

I still remember mother buying 78 RPM records that had the familiar dit dah of Morse Code as she studied her radio theory and Morse Code. I helped my mom learn the code by playing the records for her and sometimes sending the code for her to practice using an old military surplus Morse code key. I was proud of how she learned the code. I also learned the code, but at five years old I couldn’t send or receive it as fast as was required to pass the license. I eventually would.

I remember how excited we were when mother passed her Novice Class license. She received the call sign KN7JYX. The N meant she held a Novice class license. It meant she could only be on the airwaves using code. She would have to pass the General Class exams before she could use voice communication. The General Class license required sending and receiving the code at 25 words per minute, as well as additional electronic theory. She passed the exam, and the call sign dropped the N, becoming K7JYX.

We built the first HAM radio from military surplus parts. I still remember the first antenna. It was an inverted V. It had a center conductor and wires going down from each it, one on each side. I helped put up the antenna. The first time we tested it under a radio frequency load we took a Florissant light bulb outside and held it near the antenna. With a good foot between the glass tube and the wires, the antenna light up like a spotlight!

With her license Mother was able to talk to Doris back in South Carolina. Mother would remain active in Amateur Radio until her death. She went on to earn Amateur Advanced and Extra Class license. Her Morse Code speed was over 75 words a minute for the Extra Class license.

She was proud as I went on to earSkywarn Certn the HAM radio and Morse Code merit badges as a Boy Scout. I also passed the exams for the Novice Class, Technician Class, and General Class FCC license. My call sign is N5FRJ.

Over the years, I have run a two-meter repeater from the steeple of one church I served and had my HAM rig in my office at three churches I served. For years and decades, I was also a National Weather Service Skywarn Certified Weather Spotter – a storm chaser.

One of the fun things about being a military brat was all the interesting people and lifelong friends you meet and make. The Bedford’s were friends until Don and Doris died.

GraveWhen we moved to Texas in 1963 Mother had her HAM call sign changed for Texas and became W5MWK. HAM radio was so important to my parents that their call signs are on their tombstone. It was wonderful sharing a lifelong interest with my Mother.


“Mom Gets an Amateur Radio License” is a chapter in the forthcoming book “Military Brat Memories: Growing Up During the Cold War” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler.


clean shavenJimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

Walk in a Manner Worthy of Your Call to Write 

integrityMaybe you are a Christian writer whose drive is sharing Christian themes for the mainstream market. Your goal may focus on writing to develop Christian Believers. Whatever your motivation, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” Ephesians 4:1b.

Ephesians 4:1-6 (English Standard Version) says,

I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  These verses give five guidelines that will help you:

These verses give five guidelines that will help you: Walk in a Manner Worthy of Your Call to Write

Guideline One: Humility“to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility” – Ephesians 4: 1b—2a

As a Christian writer, we should be full of Jesus, not self. The temptation is to be full of ourselves. When this happens, we are at risk of treating others with contempt, of coming across as preachy.

Guideline Two: Gentleness – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience,” Ephesians 4: 1b- 2a.

As a Christian writer, we should be bold but under control. Under control does not mean being a wimp. Just as a powerful race horse is under the control of the jockey, as a Believer we need to be under the control of the Spirit of the Living God. Share the love Jesus and his teachings without beating the reader over the head with the Holy Bible.

Guideline Three: Patience – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience,” Ephesians 4: 1b- 2a  As a Christian writer we need to trust God believing His word would come true. We need to keep on keeping on. We need to accept the fact that it takes time to develop our writing craft.  “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but wish patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” — 2 Peter 3:9

As a Christian writer, we need to trust God believing His word would come true. We need to keep on keeping on. We need to accept the fact that it takes time to develop our writing craft.  “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but wish patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” — 2 Peter 3:9

Guideline Four: Forgiving Love – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” – Ephesians 4: 1b – 2.

As a Christian writer, we need to realize Christian love covers a multitude of sins. We should write with a love that loves no matter what. We have all heard it said, “hate the sin, love the sinner.” That is what we must do as writers. After all, as a Christian you are, by grace saved through faith, it is the gift of God.  Ephesians 2:8-10

Guideline Five: Unity If the Spirit in the Bond of Peace “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:3 English Standard Version

Guideline five is the sum of points one through four. All four points equal a bond of peace. We are bearing one another in love. Our writing should share and bring people to Christ, not drive them from Christ. “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians 4:4-6 (English Standard Version).

We need to realize it is not a geographical or a denominational thing; it is a Jesus and a God thing.

The article was written by Jimmie A. Kepler on May 4, 2012.


clean shavenJimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

Winner Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s Books


Charlie's Bells: A Short Story Anthology
by Jimmie Aaron Kepler
Prairie Dogs
Available on Amazon


Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection
by Jimmie Aaron Kepler
Gone Electric
Available on Amazon

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