Ever wonder about life in a military family?
FNC's national correspondent Phil Keating is an Army brat and was happy to contribute his anecdotes for FOX Fan's "Month of the Military Child" special feature.
Phil's parents also wanted to share their experiences — so, read on and learn some dirt about Phil, straight from his parents' mouths!
• Phil Keating
• Donna Keating
• Dave Keating
Continue to check FOX Fan every day as we celebrate the Month of the Military Child!
What's it like to be an Army brat? Well, honestly, I don't know any other experience first-hand to compare it to — but I can say that there has been many times where I envied people for not having to move around their whole lives.
I was never able to have certain experiences that others may take for granted. For example, when I was reporting at KUSA, the local news in Denver, I was riding around in our news vehicle with Jason Vaz, my photographer, who grew up in Denver. We were sitting at a red light when Jason rolled down his window — the driver next to us did the same. The two had gone to elementary school together, and did the whole, "Oh, my gosh! Hey! How've you been?" thing. That's an experience I have never been able to have.
But my life's been great, don't get me wrong. Here's where I've lived:
• Shreveport, LA.
• Newport News, VA.
• Corpus Christi, TX.
• St. Louis, MO.
• Fort Leavenworth, KA.
• Fort Lee, VA.
• Heidelberg, Germany.
• Kitzingen, Germany.
• Washington, DC.
• St. Louis, MO (again).
Then, I studied at the University of Missouri in Columbia, and in my television news career, I lived in several other locations, including:
• Macon, GA.
• Spokane, WA.
• Columbus, OH.
• Denver, CO.
• Dallas, TX.
• Boston, MA.
• and now, lovely Miami Beach, FL
Altogether, that's 18 locales!
A couple of times, my family boxed things up and moved into different Army housing, within the same place. And because of my dad's cleanliness, every time we moved, we had to give a massive scrub-down to the place we were leaving, and as soon as we arrived at the new place, perform another massive scrub-down. I recall wondering why we had to do that two times per move, even when my dad told me that everyone else was not always as considerate as we were. Today, that probably explains why my apartment is not so clean all the time, and my desk is always cluttered — but I know where everything is.
My dad was an officer my entire life. He did three tours in Vietnam, and was in his third tour when I was born. I think I was nine months old when he first saw me. I'm told I immediately cried and slobbered all over his shoulder at the airport, because this stranger was holding me. (I still cry and slobber … just kidding!)
My father ended up becoming a Colonel. I remember being in Kitzingen, Germany — probably in fourth or fifth grade — and walking by myself over to my father's base, popping into his office to surprise him. At the time, he was the Battalion Commander. His office door was cracked, and his secretary was not at her desk, so I peeked in and he was in the middle of ripping an 18-year-old G.I. who had broken a rule. My father was using language that I had never heard him speak before. I quickly backpedaled out of the frame, went home, and told my two sisters that Dad was not to be disobeyed anymore. (HA! During my rebellious years of high school, of course, I violated that rule … many times.)
Moving so much was generally easy, especially when the move happened during the school year, because then you made friends really fast. But when we moved back to the states from Germany, and from D.C. to St. Louis, it was during the summers preceding my seventh and 10th grades. Those were tough, as it took a long time to make friends. (Click here to read how Phil's dad remembers those summers.) And it was that summer in D.C. that I decided I was definitely not going to be a military man, because I didn't want to impose that loneliness on my kids. Then, I decided to become a journalist and have lived in seven additional cities. Go figure!
I'd say the best thing about having grown up as a military child is that it forced me to be the social extrovert that I am. There is not a stranger that I don't feel completely comfortable approaching, talking to and joking around with. My best friend from high school, Neil Crystal, who grew up in St. Louis, is permanently amazed at this ability, of which he does not share. Undoubtedly, this has been extremely beneficial for my career, since I need this talent daily.
There have been a few times that friends of mine from the past have seen me on the FOX News Channel, and wondered if I was the same Phil Keating as that class clown they remember. That's been cool. I've only actually visited in person with one of them — Jeff Sanders out in Orange County. We were best friends in fifth and sixth grade in Germany. We used to draw cartoons together all of the time, and use the term "chicks" to describe girls, because we thought we were young players.
Well, that's my experience. It certainly made me much more worldly and less ethnocentric than probably most 18 year olds graduating high school. And I believe that is beneficial. Experiencing new places, new people and different cultures is perception enhancing. It's healthy to be aware of different points of view. — Phil
The military life was very good to our family, creating memories and developing many close relationships. I truly believe Phil is the fun-loving, dedicated and caring person he is today because of all of his experiences, including the three and a half years we spent in Germany.
My son has always had an innovative and fun personality — once, he sprawled out on the floor with catsup all over himself (to resemble blood) just to get even with us, after being punished. I can never forget what happened when he was in the seventh grade — we were stationed in Germany, and all the boys gathered together in the military building to perform a mock KISS Concert … complete with makeup, guitars and lip-syncing! In high school, Phil gained the pseudonym "Friday Fanatic" when reporting the daily school news during his senior year. He was always the center of attention and seemed very comfortable in that role.
Phil's dad, Dave, was in the military for 26.5 years, completing three tours to Vietnam as a helicopter pilot, before he retired. The 11 years our family moved from city to city must have given Phil wanderlust, because he's continued to move throughout his career, after graduating from college.
In our military family, Phil has been a delight from day one. — Donna
A fond memory I have of Phil learning to adjust to being an Army brat is when we returned to St. Louis, for my second assignment there. We originally lived in St. Louis when Phil was in the first grade, and we were returning eight years later — a typical Army move.
The relocation happened during summer break, and Phil didn't know anyone — but his outgoing nature has always enabled him to make friends easily. Since we moved back to the same house, Phil thought he may recognize the some kids from the neighborhood. So, he took his first grade class picture to the neighborhood pool and asked the kids swimming if they recognized anybody in the picture.
Needless to say, several did recognize him — so, Phil had people to hang out with that summer! — Dave
Donna and Dave have lived in Huntsville, AL for the past 10 years, and she says it'll probably be their permanent home. Dave is originally from Boston, MA; she's from Shreveport, LA.
Phil Keating joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in March 2004 and currently serves as national correspondent. He has recently covered the state of Oklahoma's trial of Oklahoma City Bombing co-conspirator, Terry Nichols. Read his complete bio here.
• Are you a military child? Click over for some tips on facing deployment.
Phil's story is just one of many to come in April, the month of the military child. Continue to visit www.foxfan.com as FNC continues its celebration of military brats, young and old! Are you a military child? Click over for information on how YOU can submit your story!