I was the oldest daughter of an Army officer. We moved about 20 times before I graduated in 1976. We mostly lived in Alabama, Georgia and Texas and lived in Germany for three whole years while I was in high school. We always lived on post except for the two years my dad was in Vietnam and 9 months in California.
I hated when we lived off-post. It always made me feel unsafe.
No MP’s, no barbed-wire fence to keep the dregs of society out. And it was even scarier to me, because not only were we in this alien environment- but Dad was gone, and maybe could never come home. Daddy’s picture – crying and praying every night.
When I was young, I remember tanks and helicopters in my back yards, strict rules about everything, washing walls before we moved and moving every few months. Even at a young age, I devised a way of coping with moving. I would figure out the halfway point between the point where I was living then and to where I was moving. Then I would allow myself to cry about moving to the halfway point and then be excited the last half.
In the junior high years, I remember learning of friends whose father’s died in Vietnam, taking lengthy classes on nuclear emergencies, bomb drills, dreaming about war, shopping at the PX, and I remember how mad Dad got when I drew a peace sign.
High school in Germany was a whole new arena. Losing my ID all the time, MP’s watching us like a hawk, GI’s drooling at every female all the damned time, more bomb drills, long bus rides to school, the best friends in the world, barbed-wire everywhere, and more GI’s.
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in Military Brats Online in 1997.