You Can’t Go Home Again

“You can’t go home again.”

That quote is largely figurative to those in the civilian world, but for military brats it can be quite literal. Many civilian kids leave their hometowns to make their ways in the world, but they can always return to visit their old houses, schools and neighborhoods and see how things have changed. They can also get together with family and friends that still live in the area and reminisce.

For many military brats though, that’s just not the case. Sure, some can go back a year or two after they leave and do many of the things described above, (if they still have an I.D. card or sponsor and can actually get on the base). But let years go by and the inhabitants of that base will have, in all likelihood, changed entirely. You would now be a complete stranger in a place you used to call home.

And worse still, many of those bases, like those pictured in this post, may no longer exist. These were our homes, our schools, our communities, our friends and neighbors… completely gone. This is something that can generate a profound sense of loss or hollowness in those who have lived it, above and beyond already having to reconcile the difficult experience of being repeatedly uprooted and relocated growing up. It can be something people struggle with for the rest of their lives… some never really finding closure.


8 replies
  1. Ernie Foster
    Ernie Foster says:

    My buddies were James Kellaum, Norm Cannon, Fred Krismarki, Tony Head, Bob Maus, Cliff Freeman, Ralf Accosta, Thor, Bob East and Mickey Harris. We all graduated from MAHS 1969 and 1970 what a time we had there from going to Prince Max to playing in bands at the AYA pizza time we all had a blast back in the day which we will never forget

  2. Randall Smith
    Randall Smith says:

    Quite a few of my old friends are now on the Viet Nam Wall. Went back to Ft Sam Houston two years ago and say the place we called home 51 years ago. Lord it looked bad.

  3. Terrence O'Neil
    Terrence O'Neil says:

    That picture of the front entrance of the hospital at Clark brings back memories. When I left Wilford Hall in June 1981 to be the only kidney doctor west of Hawaii, running the dialysis unit on the third floor that hospital with my wife Susan and our eight-week-old daughter Annette, I had no idea what sort of adventure was about to begin. We lived for a while in Carmenville Subdivision for a year and a half, and then moved into Quarters 105 on base. Our wonderful housegirl Ada was an angel, watching over Susan and keeping her company while I ran the dialysis unit (just out of the frame of view to the right), taking care of military and family members with everything from simple acute kidney failure to blackwater fever from malaria acquired at the Jungle Ops Training Center on Bataan or Korean hemorrhagic fever from the fall joint maneuvers in Korea. I probably lived in that hospital as many hours in three years as I lived in our quarters. So sad to see it all caved in from the ash erupted by Mount Pinatubo.

  4. Catherine Sugg
    Catherine Sugg says:

    Wow. I know this feeling well. Even though my father retired when I was 9, I have moved every 9 years throughout my life–I am 62. Often it hasn’t been intentional and in fact it wasn’t what I necessarily wanted. I’m coming up on 9 years where I have retired and do not want to leave. We’ll see if I break the cycle this time. Thanks for your story.

  5. Jo (Batte) Woerner
    Jo (batte) Woerner says:

    The closest thing I ever had to feeling like I’d gone home was visiting a friend in Wiesbaden back in the 80’s. At the movies, we ran into a teacher who’d been my teacher briefly at Hof AFB in the late 60’s. But it was when the Star Spangled Banner came on that I felt transported back to home. Nothing else has ever felt like that moment.

    By the time I graduated high school, I’d gone to 16 different schools. I was a sophomore in high school when my father retired, and clocked in another 4 schools before I graduated. One high school reunion site only allowed me in as a “guest.” That stung a little.

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