Old Memories

When the soldiers used to return from the field after several weeks, they used to come through the housing area. All of us kids, and some of the mothers, would stand outside and watch them as they came through. Most of us were hoping to see our dads. And when we did, there was nothing that could beat that excitement.

As the saying goes, nostalgic moments from the past always burn brightest. Some things that I haven’t thought of in awhile came rushing back to me when I read some of the stories on Military Brats Online. One such memory from Erlangen, Germany is living in an apartment in a green building on the outskirts of the post. In the early mornings, around 6:30 a.m., the soldiers used to jog right past our building. I remember the heavy pats of their feet hitting the pavement in unison as they sounded off in (Ka-songs?)

When the soldiers used to return from the field after several weeks, they used to come through the housing area. All of us kids, and some of the mothers, would stand outside and watch them as they came through. Most of us were hoping to see our dads. And when we did, there was nothing that could beat that excitement.

Our dads would always look so serious but I knew in their hearts that they were happy that we were glad to see them. Even though we saw tanks and Army equipment 365 days a year, almost 24 hours a day, we would still get excited on a ‘special’ day when we actually got to “see” them. The best part was getting a chance to ride in that equipment.

When we lived on the economy, in a little village called Mittlemembach, we would have to catch the bus at 6:30 a.m. In the winter, there would always be a new blanket of snow on the ground every morning. Even though it was dark, it still looked beautiful. It looks beautiful now in memory, but I remember we thought the winters just dragged on miserably and that it was hard to run to the bus in the two feet of snow that covered the dirt road.

Bavaria was beautiful in any season but in the winter, it just felt like it was another world. Like some place out of a fairy tale. And Santa‹who for us didn’t wear red but was outfitted in a white beard and fatigues. And he didn’t carry his goods in a black bag but an Army-issue duffel bag.

I now live in Alexandria, La. England Air Force Base was one of the bases that was closed about five years ago. The base is now called England Air Park. Some businesses have relocated to the buildings out there, but many of those building still stand empty. Ghostly echoes from the past. Fort Polk uses the airstrip out there when they are conducting maneuvers. Alexandria International Airport (they have one flight a month to Mexico) is housed out there.

Fort Polk soldiers and their families fly in and out of that airport everyday. Once, while I waiting on my flight, I saw a young soldier kissing his baby daughter, and holding his wife. I felt guilty about watching their moment together, but I knew how they felt. It reminded me of my father and mother, and the times our family was separated during a move. Everything worked out fine for us and I’m sure everything worked out fine for them.

Sometimes, if I’m feeling nostalgic, I’ll drive out to England Air Park and look at those old military buildings‹the ones where the BX used to be, the commissary, the youth center, the barracks, the Officer¹s Club. And sometimes to look at those soldiers dressed in their fatigues, conducting some kind of Army business. They remind me a lot of my father.


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

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