Portsmouth Junior High School

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In August 2016 I found myself standing in front of Portsmouth Junior High School (now Portsmouth Middle School) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I attended the school from February 1966 through the end of April 1967 when my father Technical Sergeant Jimmie Kepler retired from the United States Air Force.

While the school added a couple of additions since I had left, if I stood in front of the school it looked exactly the same. Standing there it was as if time had stood still.

Earlier that same day, I had taken a nostalgic tour of the former Pease Air Force Base (now the Pease Air National Guard Base, Pease International Trade Port and Portsmouth International Airport at Pease). As I drove the streets of my adventures as a seventh and eighth grader, I was once again a thirteen years old boy building snow forts, playing baseball, and having his first interest in girls.

You will have as much fun reading as I had remembering and writing about growing up as a military brat. All the events are true. I have changed the names of the boys and girls in my remembrances.


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, Beyond Imagination, The Dead Mule School for Southern Literature, Poetry & Prose Magazine, and vox poetica. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his literary habit working as an IT application support engineer. He is a former Captain in the US Army. Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs.


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 is an award-winning short story writer, poet, and indie author. He is the creator of the science fiction with faith series, The Liberator’s Helper.

Jimmie is an alumnus of The University of Texas at Arlington with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history with minors in English and military science where he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Army upon graduation. He served as a commissioned officer on active duty for three years and then five years in the US Army Reserves. He earned Master of Religious Education and Master of Arts degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also holds a Doctor of Education degree in Educational Administration. He sold his first magazine article over 35 years ago and has been writing professionally since then. He lives in a north Dallas Texas suburb with his wife and very demanding cat.

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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 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 coffeehouse, 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.

Reading Classic Illustrated Comic Books at School

Classic Illustrated Comic Book - The Deerslayer
Classic Illustrated Comic Book – The Deerslayer

Moving from Biggs Air Force Base, El Paso, Texas to Pease Air Force Base, Portsmouth, New Hampshire was one of the greatest adventures in the life of this military brat. I was in junior high school back then. During this time that I went through puberty, became interested in girls, and fell in love with reading.

My love for reading got a kick-start when I was a preschooler with my father and mother reading to me. I loved to sit in their lap as they read. Mother read me classic Bible stories. Dad read me Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Chip & Dale comic books. He let me hold one page of the comic while he held the other. The illustrations came to life with the characters running across the page before my eyes.

School teachers like my second-grade teacher Mrs. Davis, my third and fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Jensen and notably Mrs. Englebrock, my delightful fifth-grade teacher read to us entire books, one chapter at a time. Tornado Jones, Robinson Crusoe, and the Swiss Family Robinson captivated my young mind.

Arrival at Portsmouth Junior High School brought two dear women into my life, Mrs. Athens, and Dr. Pickett. They were my English literature teachers and had a Dartmouth and Radcliffe College education. They instilled a passion in me for reading. One way they captivated my attention was through the use of Classic Illustrated Comic Books.

Each student received the comic book. The intent of using the comic book was to keep us from being intimidated by a 300-page novel. The Classic Illustrated Comic was only forty-eight pages long. Instead of reading page after page of words, we had the mix of illustrations and words. We learned the main characters, the story theme, storyline and setting.

Portsmouth Junior High School, Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth Junior High School, Portsmouth, NH

We developed an interest in the work. After reading the comic, we then would tackle the novel. Being familiar with the characters and story we were hungry to find out the entire story. Many times we read a chapter aloud in class followed by discussion. The teacher’s goal was to get us to enjoy reading and to be conversationally literate in classical literature.

This technique somehow got most of the boys in the class to read! Reading comics was considered cool. At home, we would read Spiderman, Superman, Sargent Rock, and Archie Comics. They were not allowed at school. At school, we added Ivanhoe, The Last of the Mohicans, A Tale of Two Cities, Les Misérables, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Pathfinder, The Invisible Man and other Classic Illustrated Comics to our read for pleasure list. The teachers allowed us to read these “real literature” comics in study hall, before class or at lunch.

Who would have thought a comic book could motivate a boy to read? Not me, but they did. Mrs. Athens and Dr. Pickett were sneaky in getting me and many others to love reading. Thank you, ladies. You were the best, and you made a lifelong impact in this military brat.

Picture Credit: Classics Illustrated – This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported2.5 Generic2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license. b)


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a writer of speculative fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and reviews books. He’s written for Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine, Thinking About Suicide.com, Author Culture, FrontRowLit.com, The Baseball History Podcast, Writing After Fifty, Sunday School Leadership, Church Leadership, Motivators For Sunday School Workers, The Deacon, Preschool Leadership, Sunday School Leader, and The Baptist Program. For sixteen years, he wrote a weekly newspaper column. He has written five fiction and poetry books. All are available on Amazon.com. His blog “Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews” was named a 100 Best Blogs for History Buffs and has had over 750,000 visitors.

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.


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.

Reading Classic Illustrated Comic Books at School

Classic Illustrated Comic Book - The Deerslayer
Classic Illustrated Comic Book – The Deerslayer

Moving from Biggs Air Force Base, El Paso, Texas to Pease Air Force Base, Portsmouth, New Hampshire was one of the greatest adventures in the life of this military brat. I was in junior high school back then. During this time that I went through puberty, became interested in girls, and fell in love with reading.

My love for reading got a kick-start when I was a preschooler with my father and mother reading to me. I loved to sit in their lap as they read. Mother read me classic Bible stories. Dad read me Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Chip & Dale comic books. He let me hold one page of the comic while he held the other. The illustrations came to life with the characters running across the page before my eyes.

School teachers like my second-grade teacher Mrs. Davis, my third and fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Jensen and notably Mrs. Englebrock, my delightful fifth-grade teacher read to us entire books, one chapter at a time. Tornado Jones, Robinson Crusoe, and the Swiss Family Robinson captivated my young mind.

Arrival at Portsmouth Junior High School brought two dear women into my life, Mrs. Athens, and Dr. Pickett. They were my English literature teachers and had a Dartmouth and Radcliffe College education. They instilled a passion in me for reading. One way they captivated my attention was through the use of Classic Illustrated Comic Books.

Each student received the comic book. The intent of using the comic book was to keep us from being intimidated by a 300-page novel. The Classic Illustrated Comic was only forty-eight pages long. Instead of reading page after page of words, we had the mix of illustrations and words. We learned the main characters, the story theme, storyline and setting.

Portsmouth Junior High School, Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth Junior High School, Portsmouth, NH

We developed an interest in the work. After reading the comic, we then would tackle the novel. Being familiar with the characters and story we were hungry to find out the entire story. Many times we read a chapter aloud in class followed by discussion. The teacher’s goal was to get us to enjoy reading and to be conversationally literate in classical literature.

This technique somehow got most of the boys in the class to read! Reading comics was considered cool. At home, we would read Spiderman, Superman, Sargent Rock, and Archie Comics. They were not allowed at school. At school, we added Ivanhoe, The Last of the Mohicans, A Tale of Two Cities, Les Misérables, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Pathfinder, The Invisible Man and other Classic Illustrated Comics to our read for pleasure list. The teachers allowed us to read these “real literature” comics in study hall, before class or at lunch.

Who would have thought a comic book could motivate a boy to read? Not me, but they did. Mrs. Athens and Dr. Pickett were sneaky in getting me and many others to love reading. Thank you, ladies. You were the best, and you made a lifelong impact in this military brat.

Picture Credit: Classics Illustrated – This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported2.5 Generic2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license. b)


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a writer of speculative fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and reviews books. He’s written for Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine, Thinking About Suicide.com, Author Culture, FrontRowLit.com, The Baseball History Podcast, Writing After Fifty, Sunday School Leadership, Church Leadership, Motivators For Sunday School Workers, The Deacon, Preschool Leadership, Sunday School Leader, and The Baptist Program. For sixteen years, he wrote a weekly newspaper column. He has written five fiction and poetry books. All are available on Amazon.com. His blog “Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews” was named a 100 Best Blogs for History Buffs and has had over 750,000 visitors.