Q&A with a Bonafide Army Brat

On December 7th, 2004, I completed a college English Composition assignment to interview one person about their childhood. The person whom I chose was my dad. I recently came across the Q&A in a pile of the belongings I brought back with me from Kansas City this past September.

Whenever I think about how I wish I had known more about my dad, I think about this assignment and how it is probably one of the most, if not the most, intimate conversations about his past, his history, that we ever had. I always wished I had expanded upon this conversation post college English assignment. At the time, I guess my grades were the good excuse needed to conduct a well-rounded, structured conversation with him and I do hope you’ll enjoy what I uncovered.

Q: You were an “army brat,” correct?

A: Yeah

Q: How long were you an “army brat?”

A: From birth to sixteen years old.

Q: Name all the different countries, states and cities you have lived in.

A: Spokane, Washington, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Fort Watchuka, Arizona, San Antonio, Texas, Vicenza, Italy, Honolulu, Hawaii and Kansas City, Missouri

Q: Were there any places that you were going to live or be stationed in but were not?

A: Okinawa, Japan – Dad didn’t like the weather there because he was there and went through a typhoon and didn’t wanna bring his family there.

Q: Out of all the places you were stationed in, which one was your favorite?

A: Vicenza, Italy

Q: Why?

A: Because I got to learn the language, the customs. I got to see the beautiful country, plus we got to see our family a lot more because they lived in Caserta.

Q: How long were you based in Italy?

A: Two times in two years. I was about four and five years old the first time and eight and nine the second time.

Q: What can you tell me about Hawaii?

A: Very beautiful…

Q: Come on dad, elaborate…we all know that…

A: We would climb coconut trees and pick coconuts. One time, my brother John picked a hornet’s nest thinking it was a coconut and he dropped it on the ground near me. (pause) I was scared half to death of flying cockroaches. They were about 1 ½” long and ½” wide. They were crunchy when you stepped on them.

Q: Any other experiences in Hawaii you would like to share?

A: I was throwing rocks at cars one day, with friends, and the first car I hit was a cop car. Mr. Cop Man took me home.

Q: How old were you when you were in Hawaii?

A: Six and seven the first time. Eleven and twelve the second time…Oh, in three days, I lost both of my big toe nails riding a bike when my foot came around and caught on the asphalt. I sat in and recouped and went out the next day and did the other one… (pause, thinking) Every time we got transferred, within the continental United States, to another station, there was thirty days of vacation in between, so we’d just travel the country.

Q: Was there any place that you wanted to go and be stationed, but didn’t get the chance to?

A: Another foreign country woulda been cool.

Q: Continue with anything else you can think of…any anecdotes, stories, happenings, etc.

A: We were in Yellowstone one year and dad flicked a cigarette out the window and we were driving down the highway when we started smellin’ something’ burnin’ and it turns out, it (the cigarette) flew through the window and landed on a sleeping bag. Another time, up in Spokane, we lived in army housing and me and a friend of mine went out in a big grass field to watch the B52s and we were playing with matches and we started the whole big ass field on fire.

Q: What happened?

A: I got my butt beat.

Q: Let’s talk about Texas…How old were you when you lived in Texas?

A: Thirteen.
Q: How long did you live there?

A: About four years. Actually I guess I was about twelve.

Q: Is there anything significant you could tell us about San Antonio?

A: That’s where I started playing the drums. Me and some friends got a band together.

Q: What was the name of the band?

A: The Click.
Q: Out of all the places you lived, if you had to choose one to make your permanent residence now, which would it be?

A: Hawaii

Q: Why?

A: Self-explanatory – beautiful, warm weather, ocean.

Q: What would you say is the worst part about being an “army brat” in your mind?

A: Moving around too much. You just get to know people and then suddenly you’re gone, ya know?
Q: What was the best part about being an “army brat?”

A: Got to see the world or a big chunk of it.

Q: If you could change one thing about your childhood during these experiences and that time, what would it be?

A: Wouldn’t wanna be stationed in Fort San Houston in San Antonio, Texas.
Q: Why?

A: Because it had one of the major hospitals for amputees and stuff.

Q: And you saw a lot of that?

A: Yeah, they were all over the place. Dad taught ROTC and then he became a cryptologist for the Nike Hercules missiles, which means he had the codes for launching the nuclear missiles. 99% of the time, we were stationed on air force bases even though he was in the army. My dad also worked, one time, at the NORAD in the mountains of Colorado.
Q: And what is NORAD?

A: That’s where they watch the entire air traffic for the world.

Q: You, of course weren’t allowed inside?
A: No, they wouldn’t let us in there, though I was standing at the front gate one time.

Q: In conclusion, can you tell me about one life changing experience or event?

A: War sucks. After living in San Antonio and seeing people in wheelchairs and seeing people without arms and legs walking around – that was pretty rough for a thirteen, fourteen year old kid to see everyday. So, yeah, I’m opposed to any current and/or future wars.

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