Our Families

Military life is different from the way that most kids grow up in the civilian world. Only those of us who have lived as Military Brats really understand what that means.

Military life is different then the way most kids grow up.  Only those of us who have lived it really understand what that means.  
We’re trained well from the start and we each share the same approach towards life.  We stop what we are doing every day for the National Anthem, and again we stand for our song while it’s playing before the feature film at a movie theater.  We never try to go anywhere without our Base IDs.

We count the stripes on the sleeves in front of us before we open our mouths.  And we have fierce loyalty to country that just can not be matched.

There are other subtle differences as well.  “Going shopping” is not referring to a Mall or Plaza, but rather a trip to the BX.  Running to the convenience store for beer, Dad’s cigarettes or maybe to rent a carpet cleaner is “going to the Shoppette.” And let’s not leave out going to the Commissary on payday.  Honestly I think every mother stationed on that air base will be in the Commissary on the same day.

The lines for check out were always all the way down the aisles, and every single register was opened.  It was always the same adventure every single week.  I would drive the shopping cart, I would run over Mom’s heels, she would yell and/or give me the look, and a few minutes later we’d start our routine all over again.  I remember the biggest concern I always had was making sure that my Flintstone Vitamins, and chicken patties made it into the cart.  Not to mention the fact that every young military childs’ big dream is to one day become a Bagger!

The biggest difference however, is in the way that we are not surrounded with our family members; at least not biological. You have no Grandparents or cousins just down the road sharing your special events or even just a weekend outing to the beach.  Your family instead becomes all of the people that surround you in the same rootless situation.  In the end, your neighbors and fellow service men and women’s families become your own.

I didn’t realize when I was little how scary this must be for a new mother…not to have their own mother or sister’s help with their newborn.  Actually I didn’t realize that anyone spent time regularly with their extended families until we moved off the air base.  I (like you) thought my life was completely normal.

Everyone however, is without their family members and let’s face it; everyone needs help raising a household.  I firmly believe our military bases are where the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” still holds the most truth in today’s society.  I have so many Aunts and Uncles still to this day that I acquired through our years in the service.

It’s common knowledge to every kid in the military, that no matter where you get stationed, you are definitely going to have a lot of new aunts and uncles watching over you.  In my own experience we met only the greatest people.  Everyone there always supported one another any way that they could, being it car pooling, holidays, moving (again) or missing someone that was shipped away.

Two people that stand out in mind (although there were many that I love very much) were Uncle Ron and Aunt Hazel.  Uncle Ron was a Bomber man like my Dad.  On one occasion, my mom and Aunt Hazel were going out.  They some how had roped Uncle Ron into agreeing to watch me while they were gone.  They had not yet had kids of there own, so Uncle Ron’s kid skills were a little—off, let‘s say.

My Mother had put me down in front of the TV and they hit the road.  They left me standing there screaming my little blond head off.  I don’t know how long they were gone, but when they returned I was still standing there screaming and I had only moved a few inches to one side.  Uncle Ron didn’t know how to make me stop my crying and I was blocking his view of the television, so he did the only logical thing—he moved me out of his way.  Makes sense to me.

This same wonderful adopted Uncle had come to our rescue prior to the babysitting episode.  The older kids were sliding down the black iron  railings on the outside porch.  They decided to pay no attention to the little toddler girl climbing up and trying to perform that same act.  I climbed up on the railing, attempted to slide and very quickly fell to the cement pad below.  My chin was cut wide open.

Uncle Ron sped my Mother and I to the hospital (not the water tower).  I remember sitting in her lap in the front of the Dodge with a wash cloth pressed firmly against my chin.  That day I would receive 8 stitches in my chin and my first military scar.

I remember only a few things about Maine where I was born .  The blue bird that was over my crib, my babysitter Lori, the lake near our house and Blanky, whom I could not be without.
At Loring AFB my father was in the 42nd Organizational Maintenance Squadron, Bomber Branch, 42 Bomb Wing.  He was a B-52G Crew Chief and then promoted to B-52 Flight Line Controller.

In 1976 he received orders to a new Air Base.  His new assignment was a B-52 Flight Chief and the Quality Control Bomber Team Chief.  My, dad was a being transferred to the 416th Bombardment Wing and so were we.  At the ripe old age of 3 we made my first Military move.  We were relocated to Griffiss AFB in Rome, NY.

We moved into a house on Mars Drive in a development named WoodHaven.  Our house was a duplex attached at the garage.  On the other side lived Bunny with her teenage sons Kevin and Kenny.  Mars drive was part of a circle so we had many kids all around us sharing a back yard.  That set the scene for many adventures . . .

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1 Comment
  1. I also lived on Mars Drive in 1968 when my father was stationed at Griffis AFB!  I remember all of the kids everywhere; we all played together.

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