Reflections of Growing Up a Military Brat

Have you ever sat down with a cup of hot coffee and reflected on your life? Go ahead; raise your right hand if you have done it. If you are looking in my direction, you will see I have my hand lifted high. I admit I have had many of those melancholy moments.

No, I am not planning my eulogy, but at sixty-one years and nine-plus months of age, I look back from time to time. What is the catalyst for my latest round of self-examination? My mother passed away last December 14th. My wife of over forty years has two different types of cancer, both stage III.

One of the first things I do when reflecting is thinking about where I have been. Growing up as a military brat during the Cold War and Vietnam War gives me a different perspective than many.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about my childhood. It was fun and different. I lived many places. My laundry list of locations I had lived before I reached adulthood include:

  1. San Antonio, Texas
  2. Bowersville, Ohio
  3. Greenville, South Carolina x 2
  4. East Saint Louis, Illinois
  5. Glendale, Arizona
  6. Sequin, Texas
  7. El Paso, Texas
  8. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  9. Bebe, Texas
  10. Schertz, Texas
  11. DeSoto, Texas x 3
  12. Arlington, Texas

I also attended eight schools for my twelve grades of public school. The schools were in Arizona, Texas, and New Hampshire.

The advantage was getting to see and experience much of this great country called the United States of America. The disadvantages were a lifelong feeling of not having roots and not having a real hometown. I even felt an outsider at my high school where I attended from the middle of the ninth grade through graduation. I sometimes still feel that way when some of use gets together for a Saturday evening meal.

Other times I think back to winning the military draft lottery when we use to have such a thing. I had a twenty-five draft number.  It was a one of those pivotal moments in my life. It meant I was going into the US military. I had the choice of going immediately or going later. I could have gone directly by enlisting or just waiting to be drafted.

The Vietnam War was winding down at that time, but they were still sending combat troops. They would do that for another eighteen months after I graduated high school.

I selected another option. It was to defer my military service. I did this by joining the United States Army Reserve Officer Training Corps in college. This lead to me being commissioned a second lieutenant in the US Army upon college graduation. It guaranteed I would graduate from college on time and serve in the military.

My laundry list of places lived and worked since I married in 1974 include:

  1. DeSoto, Texas x 4
  2. Fort Riley, Kansas
  3. Fort Benning, Georgia
  4. Fort Lewis, Washington
  5. Yakima Firing Center, Washington x 2
  6. Camp Pendleton, California x 2
  7. Fort Irwin, California x 3
  8. Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho
  9. Coronado Naval Amphibious Base, California x 2
  10. Fort Worth, Texas
  11. Decatur, Georgia
  12. Clarkston, Georgia
  13. Bogalusa, Louisiana
  14. Jasper, Texas x 2
  15. Buna, Texas
  16. Denison, Texas
  17. Los Angeles, California
  18. The Colony, Texas

It also leads to three other items. First, it took me to Fort Lewis, Washington. There I attended First Baptist Church of Lakewood. I accepted Jesus Christ as Savior at Lakewood. I believe it was a providential appointment.

Second, it provided me with the G.I Bill educational benefit that I used to get my master’s degree. It was God’s finance plan.

Third, it provided the G.I. Bill house financing benefit I used to buy two homes. I doubt I would have ever been able to purchase a home with the 20% down payment requirements in place in the 1970s and 1980s. It was God’s finance plan, part two.

I think back about choices I made like marriage and the birth of three children. I reflect on attending, graduating from seminary, and serving six churches over an eighteen years period.

I look at leaving the full-time ministry and retraining for work in the information technology field. The Hazelwood Act paid for my retraining in IT. Another benefit of serving my country and being a Texan.

Sometimes I think of how I could have been a better husband and parent. I think of the poems, short stories, non-fiction, and books I have written.

No, I don’t have regrets. You cannot change choices, so any reexamination isn’t  the right thing to do.

I also think about the future. I‘ll write about that on another day.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine and more. His short stories The Cup, Invasion of the Prairie Dogs, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, and The Paintings as well as Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of The Liberator Series. The Rebuilder – Book 1 is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released October 1, 2015. The Mission – Book Two will be available Spring 2016, The Traveller – Book 3 will be available Summer 2016, and The Seer – Book 4 will be available Fall 2016.


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.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine and more. His short stories The Cup, Invasion of the Prairie Dogs, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, and The Paintings as well as Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on Amazon.com. He is also the author ofThe Liberator Series. He writes the Science Fiction with Faith.


Family Photos Before an Overseas Assignment

Quito, Ecuador Family Photo circa 1958
Quito, Ecuador Family Photo circa 1958

In the late 1950s, my father received orders with an assignment to the United States Embassy in Quito, Ecuador. One of the good things the government did back then was make a family photo before each overseas posting.

In the picture is my dad. He is in his early thirties old. My mother is in her mid-twenties. My brother is three. I am five years old.

Do you remember having family pictures made? They are one of the most traumatic experiences of my youth. We had to get on just the right clothes. We had to stay clean. We had to sit still.

At five years old a necktie was like a noose. I found it choked me. I remember I kept removing it and getting my parents upset. I was a smart kid. I still remember suggesting why don’t we just wait and put it on when we take a picture. Apparently, that was both the right and wrong thing to say. My little brother followed my lead and removed his tie. My folks finally caved and let us keep them off until we arrived at the military photographer.

Staying clean was the second problem. Crawling on the floor and playing with our army men and cars were regular activities. When we got down on our hands and knees to resume playing mother had visions of us wearing holes in the knees of our pants. She made us get up and sit on the couch while dad and mom finished getting dressed. “Sit and don’t move” was her command.

When it was time to get in the car for a short drive to the studio, my brother ran toward the car and fell getting his grass stains on the knees of his pants. Mother calmed a visibly upset dad. She pointed out they probably wouldn’t be taking pictures of his green knees.

Well, we arrived for photos. They placed us just like they wanted after first putting our ties back on us. We wiggled like worms and giggled. Finally, they said to say cheese. Then they tried again having us say watermelon. I guess they finally got the solemn look they wanted and snapped a picture.

We never moved to Quito, Ecuador. Dad’s orders were canceled. Instead, we moved to Luke Air Force Base near Glendale, Arizona.

This process repeated five years later when my dad received orders to Vietnam. You guessed it; dad and mom stressed over getting the pictures. My brother and I were typical little wiggly boys.

Do you have memories of having family pictures being taken? I would love to hear them.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine and more. His short stories The Cup, Invasion of the Prairie Dogs, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, and The Paintings as well as Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of The Liberator Series. The Rebuilder – Book 1 is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released October 1, 2015. The Mission – Book Two will be available Spring 2016, The Traveller – Book 3 will be available Summer 2016, and The Seer – Book 4 will be available Fall 2016.


Just For Fun – Pictures of Where I Have Lived

I thought it would be fun to collect pictures of the houses I have lived in from birth to my current 60 plus years. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, but it was fun putting these together. Below is visual proof  of my lack of “roots”, that is my not feeling like I have a hometown. I was a military brat and United States Army Officer from birth until my late 20s. Then I worked as a Southern Baptist Religious Educator until my mid-40s. Military and minister are two vocations that are very nomadic. Moving frequently goes with the job and life. I have lived/be stationed in over 25 locations. I attended 8 schools for 12 grades. The photos are either ones I took, my mother has, or compliments of Google Maps, street view. My memory or mother provided me with the addresses/locations.

BAMC
Brooke Army General Hospital, San Antonio

I was born in 1953 at Brooke Army General Hospital in San Antonio, Texas.

Randolph AFB
Randolph AFB

My father was in the US Air Force stationed at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio. Leaving the hospital, I moved in with my dad and mother.

Snip20140823_9

We lived on Mesquite Street in San Antonio, Texas. It is located just east of downtown. The Alamodome is in the area where the house was built. I have a picture of the vacant lot where the house use to be.

Clinton County Air Force Base in Ohio

In 1954 – 1955, my father was stationed at Clinton County Air Force Base in Ohio.

20 Church Street Bowersville, Ohio

We lived in Bowersville, Ohio. I lived at 20 Church Street.

1946-Ford-Coupe-Harwood-TX

In part of 1955 and then 1956 I lived with my Grandfather in Harwood, Texas. My brother was born while we lived here.  Well, he was born in Brooke Army General Hospital, just like me.

Donaldson AFB

My father was in Turkey with the US  Air Force at this time.When dad got back from Turkey he was stationed at Donaldson Air Force Base in Greenville, South Carolina.

201 Maco Terrace Greenville SC

We moved to 201 Maco Terrace in Greenville, South Carolina. This where I have my first memories.

Scott AFB

While living in Greenville, SC we took a side trip to Scott Air Force Base where my father had extended military training.

Scott AFB Illinois

While at Scott Air Force Base we lived in a military trailer park. We spent a snowy winter of 1956-1957 there before returning to our Greenville, SC home.

F-3530-SPT-95-000052-XX-0092

In 1958, we moved to Glendale, Arizona as my dad took a new assignment at Luke Air Force Base.

Glendale Az

We lived first in Glendale. I started elementary school at Glendale Elementary School in Glendale, Arizona in 1959. Dwight Eisenhower was the president of the USA.

2420 Navajo Luke AFB

Then in 1960 we moved into the new base housing on Luke AFB where we stayed until 1963.  I attended Luke Air Force Base Elementary School from February 1960 through the fourth grade. I had Mrs. Davis in the second grade and Mrs. Jensen in grades 3 and 4.

803 Jefferson Ave Seguin Texas

Dad headed to South Vietnam, and I headed to 803 Jefferson Avenue in Seguin, Texas.803 Jefferson Avenue, Seguin, Texas is where I lived in 1963 – 1964. I was in the 5th grade and living there when President Kennedy was assassinated and when The Beatles came to the USA. The house was white with a green roof back then. It had trees in the yard and hedge around the house back in the day. It had a backyard that was over an acre. I had a great treehouse in the backyard tree as well as a huge garden. My father was stationed at Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base in South Vietnam. I attend Jefferson Avenue Elementary School. It was located across the street from my house. Mrs. Englebrock was my fifth-grade teacher. She taught me to love to read and to write stories.

Biggs AFB

Next I moved to El Paso, Texas in August 1964. My father was transferred to Biggs Air Force Base and B-52s. I don’t have a picture of our house on Raimey Circle. It has been torn down. I am still searching for a photo.  I attended Ben Milam School. Mr. Romero was my sixth-grade teacher. In the seventh grade, I played football and started having different teachers for each class.

Pease Air Force Base Portsmouth

From here I moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Pease Air Force Base.

2024 Larkspur Circle Pease AFB New Hampshire
2024 Larkspur Circle Pease AFB New Hampshire

It was a neat place with lots of snow in the winter. I got to go to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine to the Longfellow and Chamberlain Homes. I went to the Robert Frost farm. I attended science camp at M.I.T. and Harvard University’s Summer Institute for the Gifted studying literature, poetry, and writing in their Humanities program. I lived at 2024 Larkspur Circle on Pease Air Force Base in 1966 – 1967. I attended Portsmouth Junior High School. I was the eighth-grade class vice-president. I went to all the historical places in Boston and fell in love with history. I was here until my father retired from the US Air Force. He earned a degree in business from New Hampshire College while we lived there.  From here it was back to Texas.  I finished the last few weeks of the eighth grade in Nixon, Texas at Nixon Junior High School. We stayed with my grandparents until our furniture arrived and we moved into the below house.

1407 Chestnut Drive Schertz Texas
1407 Chestnut Drive Schertz Texas

We lived in the San Antonio suburb of Schertz. I lived at 1407 Chestnut Drive Schertz Texas. I started high school at Samuel Clemens High School in Schertz, Texas in 1967. I would move to the Dallas area at mid-semester. We also owned the house that was two to the left of this one.

1010 Southwood Drive DeSoto, Texas

I lived at 1010 Southwood Drive in DeSoto, Texas until I headed to college and married. My father still resides there.

201 1/2 Ray Drive Arlington TX

When I was 17, I got my first place. It was a duplex. In 1971 – 1972 I lived at 201 1/2 Ray Drive in Arlington, Texas while attending The University of Texas at Arlington.

Four Oaks Apt Arlington TX

I moved into an apartment with my brother in 1973. It was the Four Oaks Apartments off Pecan Street in Arlington.

283 Hapton Road DeSoto Texas

In December 1974, I married Benita Breeding, and we moved into an apartment in DeSoto, Texas on 283 South Hampton Road. We lived upstairs, the second unit from the end nearest as you look, was our home.

Fort Riley
Fort Riley, Kansas

I spent the summers of 1974 and 1975 on active duty at Fort Riley, Kansas thanks to the US Army.

Fort Benning

I graduated from college in 1975 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the US Army. We moved to Columbus, Georgia. That’s where Fort Benning is located. We there 1975 – 1976.

Holly Hills Apartments Columbus Georgia

We lived the Holly Hills Apartments with lots of second lieutenants in a unit off Oakley Court. I attended the US Army Infantry Officer Basic Course, Airborne School, and the Platoon Leader Maintenance Management Course while living there.

Fort Lewis

We moved from there 3000 plus miles to Fort Lewis in Washington State. We were here 1976, 1977, 1978.

Fort Lewis Company Grade Married Officer's Quarters

We lived in two different military quarters while there. The first was one bedroom. We got a two bedroom unit after our son Kristopher was born.  While stationed at Fort Lewis I spent more time deployed or on training exercises

Camp Pendleton

I made two trips to Camp Pendleton for training. I was there in 1976 and 1977.

Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center

In 1978, I spent some time at Twentynine Palms Marine Base.

Fort Irwin CA

Twice I spent months at Fort Irwin in the middle of nowhere for training. Actually think between Edwards AFB and Death Valley, CA for its location or halfway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Naval Amphibious Base Coronado

Two times I suffered on the beaches of Coronado and San Diego. This was in 1976 and 1977.

Mountain Home AFB Idaho
Mountain Home AFB Idaho

In 1977, I was in a joint training exercise at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho

yakimatrainingctr

While at Fort Lewis at the sub-post of Yakima Firing Center (as it was named in the 1970s) in 1976, 1977, 1978.  Tank gunnery and T.O.W. Missiles had me there.

Jack Frost 76

My unit had assignments like protecting the Alaskan Pipeline. Operation Jack Frost helped soldiers prepare for this mission, learn to preheat toilet paper and work in extreme cold.

OP near Camp Casey South Korea
OP near Camp Casey South Korea

My unit also had a mission to help if the North Koreans came back across the 38th parallel.

REFORGER

My unit also took part in REFORGER – Return of forces to Europe with treks to Italy and Germany in the fall of 1978.

Gordon Ave Fort Worth

From here we moved to Fort Worth Texas where I earned my master’s degree. We lived in student housing at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on Gordon Avenue. This house had a floor the was not level. Our second son Jason was born while we lived here. We left here and moved to Decatur, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb when I graduated in 1980.

773 Scott Circle Decatur Georgia

We lived at 773 Scott Circle until our landlady moved back in when here husband passed away. Then we moved to a townhouse in Clarkston, Georgia. I served as Minister of Education at Scott Boulevard Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia.

Memorial College Drive Clarkston GA

The townhouses were large and state of the art for their time. It was an affluent baby-boomer paradise. This stock photo from Google doesn’t do them justice. They were located off Memorial Drive across from the DeKalb Community College. They were 99% owner-occupied townhomes with a very strict and sometimes mean homeowners association. I was still Minister of Education at Scott Boulevard Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia while living here.

Old Settlers Road Bogalusa Louisiana

In December 1982, we moved to Bogalusa, Louisiana. We lived in a paper mill town and could smell it. I was Associate Pastor at Superior Avenue Baptist Church.

College Street Jasper, TX

In November 1984, we moved to Jasper, Texas. We lived in this house until 1988 when we bought her first home. Our daughter Sara Joy was born while we lived here. I was Associate Pastor and Day School Principal at First Baptist Church of Jasper, Texas.

606 Pearl Street Jasper Texas

The picture doesn’t do the house justice. The lot and house are larger than they look. The house was the Better Homes and Gardens House of the year in 1959 and was featured in Southern Living Magazine. The people who bought the house after us took out all the azaleas and dogwoods we had and replaced with hedge and non-native trees. The also removed over a dozen seven-five-year-old  or older trees. They added the black shutters, wrought iron windows, and doors and made it like a prison. The multi-level tree house my kids had the backyard was also removed when the trees were cut  down. I was still Associate Pastor and Day School Principal at First Baptist Church of Jasper, Texas. I owned the house until March 1995. We moved from here in 1992 to Buna, Texas.

Vacant Lot

This was on Halley Street in Buna, Texas. We lived in a church-owned home. It has been moved. The pastor lived in the house to the right. In the background is the church. I was Associate Pastor and Business  Administrator at First Baptist Church of Buna, Texas.  I lived here 1992 – 1993.

168 Chickadee Drive Denison, Texas

Next I lived at 168 Chickadee in Dension, Texas from May 1993 until January 1996.  Our oldest son graduated high school while we lived here. My father-in-law passed away while we lived here. I was Minister of Education and Senior Adults at Parkside Baptist Church in Denison, Texas. The house was small, did not have central air, and was close to the church.

721 Marvin Hancock Drive Jasper Texas

I lived at 721 Marvin Hancock Drive in Jasper, Texas. We lived in the unit on the bottom left. We lived here for the spring semester of 1996. I was Vendor Management Specialist for East Texas Support Services overseeing the CCMS program for day care centers in 16 counties. I also taught early childhood education.

4916 Watson (2007)

I bought our current home on Watson Drive in The Colony, Texas in July 1996.  I  have worked as a senior training specialist for American Express, Internet coordinator for Hilton Hotels, as a senior support engineer for Equator LLC, and in multiple Information Technology roles for Interstate Batteries while living here. Our youngest two children finished high school, got college degrees, and our daughter married since we moved here. Sadly, the huge tree in the center of our front yard had to be cut down in 2007.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine and more. His short stories The Cup, Invasion of the Prairie Dogs, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, and The Paintings as well as Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of The Liberator Series. The Rebuilder – Book 1 is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released October 1, 2015. The Mission – Book Two will be available Spring 2016, The Traveller – Book 3 will be available Summer 2016, and The Seer – Book 4 will be available Fall 2016.


Sun Tea

Sun Tea

Making Sun Tea was a fun way for this military brat to enjoy the hot summers of the Phoenix, Arizona. I lived at Luke Air Force Base, in the Valley of the Sun from 1958 to 1963. We also made Sun Tea in Seguin, Texas during 1963 – 1964 and El Paso, Texas 1964 – 1966.

Sun Tea is a technique of brewing tea slowly. It uses the heat of the sun to pull out the flavors from dry tea leaves.

I recall my mother placing a gallon size glass jar full of water and tea bags out on the cinder block fence. It was placed up high where the kids and the critters couldn’t get to it.

The sun shined down upon the liquid reminding me an offering to the sun god placed upon an altar. My mother used the hot sun to brew her tea.

Mother would fill the gallon glass jar with war and tea bags. Next we would go with her as she placed it on the cinder block fence just before lunch. We would retire to the kitchen for the noon meal. Following lunch, she would send us to our afternoon naps. We would rest for a couple of hours. Mom would let us get up from our rest in time to watch American Bandstand. It was still a daily show way back then. When Dick Clark signed off it was time to go get the jar of tea.

The clear water in the jar was now a medium to dark brown color. I got the glasses from the cabinet and the ice trays from the freezer. I filled the glasses with ice cubes. Mother poured the warm brew over the frozen water. At least half of the ice always melted. We enjoyed the liquid treat with our supper.

In researching Sun Tea online I was surprised to learn there has been some recent debate about Sun Tea being unsafe. It has been identified that bacteria can grow because the water doesn’t reach a temperature of 190 degrees or more.

The Snopes article I read says the bacteria found in sun tea comes from the water used to make it, not the tea itself. That would mean that the water is the real issue.

Information for Sun Tea Brewers (from: http://www.mommyskitchen.net/2010/07/sun-tea-my-favorite-summer-drink.html )

  1. Always us a clean glass jar and not a plastic jar. Make sure you choose a container that has a metal lid. Do not use a plastic one. Always place your sun tea jar in direct sunlight.
  2. Scrub your Sun Tea container with hot soapy water after every use I always clean mine by hand and run it through the dishwasher after each use.
  3. If you want, you can use distilled water instead of tap water if that is a significant issue. Don’t leave the Sun Tea to brew for more than 4 hours.
  4. The key is not allowing Sun Tea to sit out and come to room temperature. Refrigerate and drink as soon as possible. Don’t prepare more than you can drink in a day or two. Throw out the leftovers after day two.
  5. Also, throw away tea that has turned thick and syrupy or that has ropey strands, which are bacteria. I mean who would drink that? Use common sense here.

Sources with recipes:

http://www.mommyskitchen.net/2010/07/sun-tea-my-favorite-summer-drink.html)

http://www.foodnetwork.com/how-to/photos/how-to-make-sun-tea-a-step-by-step-guide.html

 

 

Changing Schools – A Recurring Great Adventure for the Military Brat

Portsmouth Junior High School (now Portsmouth Middle School), New Hampshire

How many schools did you attend growing up as a military brat? Do you remember this as a great adventure or gut-wrenching trauma?

I attended ten public schools for my twelve grades of schooling. Eight of the school changes were during my very formidable years of grades five through nine. Yes, I changed school eight times during the time all the changes of adolescence were happening. For me, it became gut-wrenching after my father retired from the military, and we transitioned to the civilian world. Only by the grace of God can anyone survive such trauma.

I had an unusually difficult period from August 1964 to August 1967. If you are a military brat, I know you can relate.

In August 1964, my father returned from his first tour in South Vietnam. I had just completed the fifth grade at Jefferson Avenue Elementary School in Seguin, Texas. I remember my mixed feelings of excitement and fear as dad returned home from his tour of duty. Would I recognize him? Would he know me? Would he even want to be involved in my life anymore?

Mother was all of thirty-one years old when he returned home. I was a grown-up ten years old. Mom was wise. She talked to me and my brother before dad’s arrival. She made sure we understood it would take some adjustment. She wanted us to know not to get under his skin or pester him too much.

I still clearly remember the day we went to the San Antonio International Airport to pick up dad. His flight arrived on time from California. He was wearing his khaki United States Air Force uniform with the stripes of a technical sergeant on the upper sleeves. He was tan, standing military erect and outstretched his arms as he and mother quickly moved to each other, embraced and kissed on the lips for several minutes. He whispered in her ear, and I remember the big smiles. I lip read “I love you” as he held her tight.

After their embrace, he hugged my brother and me separately. It was beautiful to hear him say, “I love you, Jimmie Aaron. I sure missed you.” He said he wanted me to tell him all about what was happening in baseball. He set an appointment with me for Saturday afternoon after lunch. One whole hour with me. He kept his word. I had him for an hour.

We quickly shut down the household at 803 Jefferson Avenue in Seguin, Texas. We took a brief vacation to Jamestown, Ohio to visit dad’s family before returning to relocate to El Paso, Texas where I started another school, my third I three years.

I attended the sixth and the first semester of the seventh grade in El Paso, Texas at Ben Milam School at Biggs Air Force Base. Biggs AFB was home to the 95th Bomb Wing of the USAF. It was a B-52 bomber and KC-135 tanker base. From the school grounds, I would watch US Army draftees march down the long dirt road into the desert as they went through basic training in preparation for going to Vietnam. I could be scary giving there. Sometimes we watched aircraft doing an emergency landing knowing one of our parents could be on the plane. We lived there from August 1964 to February 1966. Biggs Air Force Base was shut down and turned over to the US Army.

The second junior high school I attend was Portsmouth Junior High School in historic Portsmouth, New Hampshire. My father’s assignment was at Pease AFB, home of the 509th Bomb Wing. The 509th is the unit that dropped the atomic bombs on Japan. It was a B-52 and KC-135 base. Frequently parts of the unit were on temporary duty on Guam, which they used as a base to bomb North Vietnam.

The school was a couple of blocks south of downtown Portsmouth, NH on Parrot Ave. Only two blocks away was the historic John Paul Jones Home and three blocks another direction the historic Strawberry Bank. Across Parrot Avenue was the South Mill Pond. From the second and third floor, you could see the Piscataqua River and out into the Atlantic Ocean. The St Patrick’s Catholic School that went through 8th grade was on Austin Street two and one-half blocks to the west. The nuns would chase us away from the school if we got off the bus early to look at the Catholic school girls in their cute uniforms of a white blouse, plaid skirt, and knee socks.

My father retired from the USAF the end of April 1967. We moved back to Texas and lived with my mother’s parents for the month of May 1967. Have you ever lived with the extended family? I did while waiting furniture to arrive from the previous posting of my father. It is fun and different.

The fun was having aunts, uncles, and cousins as well as grandparents. The minus was not knowing or being involved in the lives of these close relatives for years. I wondered who are they? Here I had my introduction to country music and living.

I attended Nixon Junior High School (now Nixon-Smiley) for a month. I went from a military influenced school with nearly 300 in the eighth grade to a rural school with 14 in the 8th grade. They just didn’t have new kids transfer in during the school year. Related to over half the class, it was the one place that I felt I did not fit in. A dairy queen across Texas state Highway 80 was my view. I had a 15-mile bus ride to and from school.

When the school year ended, we moved about 50 miles away to Schertz, Texas. There I started the ninth grade at Samuel Clemens High School. It was the year they changed the name from Schertz-Cibilo High School to Samuel Clemens. It was adjacent to Randolph AFB, so I was back in a comfortable military community. By mid-semester, we sold the house and moved two-hundred and fifty miles north to the Dallas area to DeSoto, Texas.

Dad had taken an engineering job with Ling Temco Vought (LTV Aerospace). I started another school. This time it was in a non-military high school. The change was traumatic. I had always been the class president, the student government leader, on the honor roll, and star baseball player. All those roles were filled. No outsider was going to replace someone in their role.

Close friendships formed quickly on military bases and military influenced schools. That did not happen in this Dallas, Texas suburb. It was also the first time I was in a school that wasn’t totally integrated. It was my first non-integrated neighborhood. I had transitioned to the real world wasn’t happy with what I found.

Maybe your experience was similar. I would love to hear your story.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine and more. His short stories The Cup, Invasion of the Prairie Dogs, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, and The Paintings as well as Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of The Liberator Series. The Rebuilder – Book 1 is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released October 1, 2015. The Mission – Book Two will be available Spring 2016, The Traveller – Book 3 will be available Summer 2016, and The Seer – Book 4 will be available Fall 2016.

Hello, I’m a Military Brat

Pease Air Force Base at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The picture was taken in the May 1966 from the balcony of the operations building. I was in the 7th grade. There is one KC-135 and six B-52s on the runway.
Pease Air Force Base, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. There are one KC-135 and six B-52s on the runway. The picture dates from May 1966. I was in the 7th grade. I lived on Pease AFB from February 1966 to May 1967 and was in the 7th and 8th grades while we lived there.

What is a military brat? A military brat is the son or daughter of an airman, marine, sailor, or soldier. These children of career military have shared characteristics. They grew up in a community of service. Sacrificing for the greater good is part of their character. They moved on average once every three years to a new state, region, or country.

Academic studies show military brats lack racism.1 They are the only color blind group in the USA. They are the most open-minded of any subgroup in the world. They are more tolerant and embrace diversity with respect for others better than their civilian counterparts to include those raised in liberal homes. They are equally respectful and tolerant of conservative, moderate and liberal points of view.2

They adapt to change and new situations better than any group in the United States. 2

They are socially independent. They do well in personal relationships. They put the needs of the other people ahead of their needs.

Military brats who grew up as military dependents particularly in the late 1940s to early 1970s are kinder, caring, and more loyal than their raised as civilian children counterparts. They were higher achievers academically and professionally make the best employees due to characteristics like self-discipline, self-starter, flexibility, and their personal fiscal responsibility. 2

Most military brats do not have a real hometown.2 Most do not know their cousins, aunts, and uncles or grandparents very well. Many do not trust the governments of North Korea, Russia, and China.

The word brat is not derogatory. It stands for:

B – Born

R – Raised

A – And

T – Trained1

I’m a military brat. My father served in the United States Army, United States Army Air Force and the United States Air Force (USAF). He retired from the USAF.

I am also a former United States Army officer. Growing up as a military brat helped prepare me for my service. It was all natural and comfortable to me. I felt it was where I belonged more than anyplace else in my life.

1 http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=military%20brat

2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_brat_(U.S._subculture)


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine and more. His short stories The Cup, Invasion of the Prairie Dogs, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, and The Paintings as well as Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of The Liberator Series. The Rebuilder – Book 1 is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released October 1, 2015. The Mission – Book Two will be available Spring 2016, The Traveller – Book 3 will be available Summer 2016, and The Seer – Book 4 will be available Fall 2016.