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Army Brat Wanderlust

My dad served 21 years in the Army beginning at the age of 17. I was born in Germany in 1955. We later lived in Tacoma, WA where my brother was born in 1958 while dad was stationed at Ft. Lewis. In 1961, mom & dad bought a house in El Paso, TX, but dad was never stationed at Ft. Bliss… he was stationed at Ft. Hood in Killeen, TX. He was then stationed at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio where we lived for a while before he was sent to Germany.

We moved to Germany when I was about 7 years old and lived there until I was almost 10 while dad was stationed at Spangdahlem Air Force Base. We lived off-base in a small town called Speicher and we went to school on the base. We traveled a lot, as my parents had friends all over Germany and outside of Germany. It seemed like we were always going someplace to visit friends… Paris, Luxembourg, Holland and all over Germany.

I remember one of the first Christmases we spent in Germany was in a small apartment where my brother and I slept in our parent’s room, (mom said we lived in Bitburg at the time). Mom heated the kitchen by turning on the gas burners. I know it was such a small apartment and I was worried that Santa wouldn’t find my brother and I… but Dad assured us that he would. Christmas morning… there on the kitchen table (there was no room for a Christmas tree) were the presents Santa had left us. He brought me a Barbie doll and a Ken doll, (my very first). And… the milk and cookies for Santa had been eaten, (and the carrots for his reindeer). Santa left us a note saying,”Thank you Dolly & Sammy for the milk & cookies. My reindeer will enjoy the carrots. I will always know where you are at Christmas. Love, Santa.” My brother and I treasured that note. Later on our dad told us he had written it to assure us that “Santa” would always know where we were.

I have the fondest memories of my time in Germany and of all of our military friends. My parents still kept in touch with them years after Dad retired. So many more stories. For a military brat, one either becomes a homebody or loves to travel. I love to travel still. And I’m proud of being a brat.

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Bryan Wardwell

I lived in Ankara, Turkey from 1984-1986, and I would not change it for the world. The experiences we gain from being overseas and the things we got to see that 90% of the population will never know or experience in their lifetime.

My first memories are of the initial trip going over to Turkey. We stopped off in New York from Dallas, and then our flight headed to Paris. I never got a chance to leave the airport, but I can say I’ve been to Paris! Our next flight took us to Geneva, Switzerland, and again I never left the airport but from the sky I do not believe there is a more beautiful, colorful country. I remember ascending and seeing this lake by the airport that was a color blue I have yet to see again in y 43 years. All the trees and grass was such a vibrant green. Truly amazing to see first hand and I would love to return one day possibly.

Our last leg of the tour was to Istanbul and then our destination Ankara. So as a twelve year old visiting his first European/Asian assignment that night was a culture shock. I did not sleep at all due to the time differences, but I will never forget the first time I heard prayer that morning. Looking out of the window watching the people and how they look, how they are dressed and even the way they carry themselves was different. I noticed the men would walk with their arms locked behind their backs. I cant say I fell in love with the country right away especially since I was home sick missing my friend and family back home knowing I wouldn’t see them for two years. I can however say I knew I really was gong to enjoy my time here after about 2 months and I got to meet people and went out to eat and shop. My biggest like if you will is the Turkish Lira to one dollar. I believe it was $1 equaled 600 Lira when I first arrived, and with that 600 Lira I could catch a taxi and go to Tunali St and eat and come back via a taxi again! You will never see that bang for your buck anywhere else then or now!

So now that I was getting acquainted with people I began to have more and more friends. I would join sports like cross country, baseball, track, and even had a short stint in wrestling until I got hurt in practice. I made friends in those two years that I till have today, and in fact a friend I met from Incirlik became my wife 28 years later! We stayed friends all these years until 4 years ago when the timing seem to be perfect. So based on those facts I think being a military brat has left a profound effect on my life.

As a brat you have a certain bond that you do not share with everyday friends stateside. People just do not understand how it is when stationed overseas. Some other benefits are you learn about other cultures and those cultures differences. these I call values and with these values you learn to judge to quickly, and you can be friends with anyone from any culture, color, background and religion. I try to instill these very values to my kids and hope they are judgmental and hope they grow to be understanding of other people and how they live, dress, speak and their religions.

Being a military brat has left a lifetime of education, memories, experiences and friendships. As I am writing this at 1:20 in the a.m my friend of 30 years I went to school with in Turkey texts me. How many can say they have that kind of friendships that share these experiences? There very well might be someone somewhere, but I consider military brats our own .5% ers!! Just to wrap this up I can 100% honestly say I would do it all over again, the meeting of friends just to leave two years later. The pain you feel every year of other friends leaving and or you leaving. People who are born and raised in the same town to me are at a disadvantage to not have the opportunity to touch and be touched by so many more people whom could be the one like it was for me! If I had not been who I am and where I was I would not be married to my beautiful wife today. So for me it was a great experience and like I said i would do it again in a heartbeat!!!