My Worst Year As a Brat

Not all Military Brat experiences were great.

I remember when it was time for us to leave Germany, in 1961. It was one of the worse moves I have ever encountered. We had to have our household goods packed the day after Christmas and we left for the world in January 1961. I was excited that I was going home to see my family. We were from a small town in NJ and we did have a home there and my family was also there, in fact my brother and his family were living in our house. Even though my dad was in the, Army we always had a home.

It was time for us to go. We went home by plane as we went over by ship. We where going to be stationed in Ft. Riley Kansas, Junction City was the town next to the post that we lived in.

Upon our arrival at McQuire AFB, where we flew into, my brother was there to pick us up. We lived about a 45 minutes from Ft. Dix, NJ. It had snowed, and when we got off the plane we saw nothing but white. I like to mention that, in those days, the flights back from Germany were military, not civilian, like today and it sure is a different flight now.

We headed home. When we arrived at my brother and sister-in-law’s, we were surprised with a homecoming Christmas. They had left the tree up and had bought us gifts. My other brothers came to visit also. I had two little nieces and two little nephews and it was so nice to see them.

We were home for about 20 days and then we left to go to Kansas. We drove and it seems to take forever. We got there and my parents rented a small basement apt until we could find a house. My dad started back to work and I started school. This was the second school I was in 4 months. I hated the school, the teachers where mean and the kids where not friendly at all.

I didn’t care. I didn’t care if I flunked or passed. I hated it. Then my dad got orders to go to school in Virginia for 6 months. My mom said we were going home, while my dad went to school. We went home and my mom tried to put me into the local Catholic school, but they were filled up and could not except any more students. She would not send me to the school in the town where lived.

So I lived with my sister-in-law’s mother and went to school in the town where she lived. Anyway, my sister-in-law had eight brothers and sisters and the two younger siblings and I where friends. I started another school in which there was 4 months left in the school year. Well, here I was in a new school again. At least the kids here where friendlier. This was not a military school and all the kids where civilian. I hated school. It became very hard for me even though I was a good student, but I just didn’t care.

I skipped classes and faked illnesses so I could stay home, etc. It was a wonder that they passed me at all. It was very hard, to be in 3 schools in one year. I was in the 8th grade. I missed my friends in Germany and I missed the school I was in there. They passed me to the 9th grade, because, I think, they felt sorry for me. I know I flunked two classes. When school was out I went home and we stayed there for most of the summer.

We left and went back to Kansas. The Catholic School there had just built a high school and my parents put me in it. It was a wonderful school and the kids where great and it was half brats and half military. It was a small school. You got to know everyone and my freshman class had 65 students. When we graduated we had 34 students left. We never did live in base quarters, we lived in Junction City. I don’t know why my parents decided not to live in base quarters, we never did when we where stateside.

This was the worst year I had ever spent while an Army Brat.

I know a lot of you probably have had the same, or similar, problems and I never want to do this again. I was lucky to be able to spend my high school years in the same school. I guess we all go through different things while we are kids, but I guess they are lessons we must learn and the experiences we encounter helps us to grow.

The funny thing is I enjoyed my Army Brat life and hope you, who are still young, will enjoy yours.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in Military Brats Online in 1997.

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  1. I feel ya.  I didn’t think that anything would be worse than drunk, fighting neighbors, moms beating their kids in the commissary or the “hospital”, or going to schools where teachers hated being there more than the students did, or disgruntled army wives selected to be “child care” workers who generally just screamed at us and made threats or sat around talking to each other, or long lines at the commissary (so long that moms would send their kids to shop for the cold items when she got closer to the register).  Thought nothing would be worse until we moved stateside to a civilian neighborhood.

    What a bunch of useless, spoiled, arrogant kids those were !  And their parents.  They all hated the military, of course, and you knew what reactions were coming when they asked you what your parents did.  Most of the adults in the civilian world are just older bodies with the same immature, spoiled babies inside.

    When we were being assigned stateside, I asked my parents, “Why do you want to go to America? That’s where all the Americans live.”  We had seen enough ego-centric, belligerent tourists in Europe to know that “Americans” were the last people you would want to live around.  Whenever I saw “Yanks Go Home” spray-painted everywhere we went, I totally understood.

    Have been back stateside since 83, and still not used to it.

  2. LOL,

    When ever RAT travel comes up in my house I say “What we are going back to “THOSE” people!” I haved lived outside the US since  I was 4.  I will never get used to “THOSE” people!

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