William Clarke

USAF Brat! Yes I Am!

I was born into the United States Air Force in November of 1961. The base was Hamilton AFB. The location was across the bay of San Fransico. My memories that I were to recall was a few years later in the mid 1960’s. Being a little beyond 50 some of this memories are fading a little and that maybe expected.

Being a “military brat” from my perspective looking back as I recall is that I never really had “friends” like “civilian” kids did. We like all military families would move around the country and parts of the world. Here’s the Clarke family in order. I was born at Hamilton AFB. Then were moved somewhere my dad got his collage degree at the University of Omaha. Then we went to Lackland AFB where dad went OCS where he was a “Mustang”.

From Lakeland AFB we went to Blytheville AFB. My brother was born there in 1963. Then onto Kessler AFB. We were there for a year or two then dad got orders the Clark AFB , Republic of the Philippines. During this time I entered first grade I think. This is when I was with my fellow brats like this and not know we had things in common. Don’t forget the country was going through civil rights time yet as I recall my “friends” were different colors and I did not care. We were all the same as kids.

After leaving Clark dad had orders back to Keesler AFB. My memories as I recall were a few things. I recall the segregated south off base. Once again I had many “friends” of all shades. Living in the South as I recall was an interesting time. We were there when Mississippi was burning. I recall mom being really nervous during the time of the civil rights advocates being murdered. My mom was nervous this time
and now I know why.

Then in the late 60’s we moved to Altus AFB. We were there until 1972 I think. I was the longest place we stayed at till then. I remember going to school and having many “friends” in school. I remember all the tornado drills at school since we lived in tornado country. That was fun time looking back.

Then the Clarke family would go to the final duty station(s) in Washington D.C kind of. Dad would be stationed all over the Virginia, D.C area. I don’t think he had a office in Maryland with the exception of Bolling AFB. The Clarke family would live in Northern Virgina better known as Chantilly. We lived in two new housing developments called Greenbriar and Brookfield just outside of Washington DC.

Being in “military schools” where things were normal and coming into the public school system was looking back a great challenge. Everyone was caucasian. At the time I did not make much of it until years later. When I was going to Greenbriar West and Brookfield Elementary schools. I once more just had people that I would consider
just “friends” but not “real” friends like civilian kids.

Then after Brookfield Elementary I went to Chantilly Intermediate and spent the 7th to 12 grade there. Those were the formative years for me, I guess. I would be considered a loner not having friends but just “acquaintances” from those years at Chantilly.

Those years though looking back were fun though I felt being a military brat may have had it’s drawbacks even to this day. Not having people my life I can relate to on anything on what was and is going on. Having a true home other then the life of going to place to place and seeing many people. Being a military brat had it great pluses. Making “friends” for a short times then when going to other places making new “friends” right away knowing the “friends” that you meet are in the same boat your in.

To this days I don’t really have “friends” bust just “acquaintances”. My ex-wife would complain all the time why I did not have “friends” because of where I worked. I had to explain to her my upbringing as a military brat that is was really not in my way of life because of my younger days as a military brat.

I think being a military brat we may look things differently because of the environments we lived in. I did not have much even though things as a military brat we were “rich” in seeing new places as an adventure in seeing new place and people. Looking back it was great with all it small problems but that made me stronger today.

John Thames

Man, Where do I begin?

I think I am the typical military brat. My father was in Vietnam when I was born and my mother had moved to Mississippi to be close to my father’s parents while pregnant with me and having my older sister.

After I was born we bounced back and forth from Virginia to Ft. Sheridan, Illinois then back to Mississippi where I stayed for kindergarten. From there it was Ft. Meade, Maryland, then to Ft. Bliss, Texas. After Texas things got interesting. We moved to Cairo, Egypt and were there from ’80 to early ’83, where I had the unfortunate experience of sitting 10 rows behind Anwar Sadat when he was assassinated.

I was 12 and had asked my mom if I could go with a buddy of mine whose dad was an Army helicopter instructor pilot. My mom said ask your dad when he calls, (he was on TDY in Germany). He called, I asked, and he said, “no absolutely not.” I told my mom he said, “yes,” and I went. The rest is literally history. Myself and Jaime saw everything right down to the fact that the only people shooting back were Prince Charles’ bodyguards. We obviously made it out of there only to be interrogated by the State Dept. once we finally made it back to the embassy.  They kept us at the embassy for a couple of weeks and my father wasn’t allowed back in the country for a little bit, but the smoke blew over and we left after school got out in ’83.

From there Germany, I lived and graduated high school in Stuttgart from ’83 to ’88. I traveled extensively throughout Europe skiing and Eurorailing…  I would never give up who, how, or where I grew up. The kids I grew up with I consider family. As a matter of fact, we just had a Patch High School reunion in Atlanta a few weeks ago. Representatives from ’83 through ’93 were there and we got together like we never left.

Debbie Gruenagel

I was the oldest of 4 children, with the 5th child on the way, when my Dad was deployed to Vietnam. We had been living in Falls Church, Virginia as he was stationed at the Pentagon, but after he received his orders to deploy he made the decision to move the family to Brockton, Massachusetts, and purchase a house so that if he was killed in Vietnam we would not have to relocate and would be closer to relatives. While he was in Vietnam the 5th child was born. He returned safely the following year, received orders to move to Ft. Belvoir, and we sold the house in Brockton and moved to Virginia.

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