Notes From Military Brats

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My father’s name is Tull Neal Gearreald, but everyone called him Tex. He was a colonel in the Pentagon, Quartermaster Corps, during WWII. Our family lived in a small log cabin in Fairfax, Va. during the war.

My father’s job was to stock and deploy the supply and merchant ships out of New York and the east coast, to be sent to Europe. At the time the German U-Boats were sinking our supply ships at a great rate. They were very bold in this tactic; for a while after our entry into the war, we were massed just off of our Atlantic seaboard coast, and sunk a large ratio of our ships.

My father was a Texas A & M grad, and was even president of his class. He was brave, stoic, and not given to emotion. Yet, even as a very young child, I remember my father’s great patriotism and feeling about our country and his job in the war effort. He would come home at night, sometimes with tears running down his face because one of the ships he had worked so hard to get to our boys overseas, had been sunk.

My father also received the Legion of Merit for a job he did for President Roosevelt that became crucial to the war effort. I remember when the president personally called him, and the letter that he sent to my father (which I believe my brother still has.) I was riding on his shoulders to the award ceremony for that medal, which I have today and still treasure.

— Linda Gearreald Page (La Quinta, CA)

It all happened a long time ago, but my Poppa was a PFC that learned how to fly in 1942. My bassinet was a top drawer of a chest on a Army Air Force base! After the war ended, we almost had a mundane life until Korea happened … then out came the suitcases again.

My family went to Hither and then to Yon for the next 20 years. Eventually Poppa entered into his third war — Vietnam. Years later, most of my siblings grabbed their suitcases and set out on the same road as Poppa, and joined the military. When my father retired, he said something that sounded rather odd, to my brother and me — we were both enlisted at the time. He said, "My sons went to war, and two strangers came home!”

I wondered what he meant until I returned to my unit and saw how I interacted with my messmates. I realized that my brother and I — two military brats — had become professional soldiers!

— Clifford E. Carter, Jr. (AMS-1 USN Retired)

My son was with the first Marine units that went into Baghdad in March 2002. He just finished his deployment in Iraq and his four-year tour of duty with the Marine Corps. Well, now it’s two years later, and he has military brats of his own! My son and his wife now have two small children.

Recently, the Marine Corps re-called him to active duty for 18 months to serve in Iraq. He has a few months to get his affairs in order before he ships out. His family is very worried for him, but he is ready to do his duty once more, and does it without hesitation.

I am so proud of my son — not just for his service to our country, but as a human being. These are the stories you should hear about.

— Lisa Schoebel (Wisconsin)

I am the now 43-year-old daughter of a career Air Force NCO.

My childhood was certainly interesting — but remote tours were the worst. My first one had a silver lining that I continue to celebrate!

When I was really little, circa 1967, my father was stationed in Greenland. He came home on an extended visit that lasted several weeks. During the time he was home, the PSAs on TV were very actively attributing cancer to smoking. At some point during his visit, I sat on my dad's lap and asked, "Why do you smoke? I don't want you to die." My father remembered the face of his little girl when he went back to Greenland, and one evening just decided he was done. He quit smoking cold turkey.

I have to say, had he been around home that year, our conversation may not have happened. More likely, the conversation would have happened, but not had the impact that it did.

My father has been married to my mom for almost 45 years. He is twice retired, working his fourth career, coaching varsity youth hockey as a volunteer, and living life to the fullest.

As hard as it was to grow up having dad away for a year at a time, I am thankful for that fateful conversation and the fact that he really heard a preschooler speaking from the heart.

— Bobbi L. Dunfee (Daughter of retired MSGT Kenneth D. Wesche, USAF)

My Dad fought as an infantryman in WWII. He came home and got out of the Army, he married my Mom … and soon after, I was born. When the Korean War began he re-enlisted and fought as a combat engineer. He stayed in the Army for 28 more years.

One of my earliest memories was when my Dad left for the Korean War. When he came home we started moving. I went through 12 schools by the time I graduated from high school. My Dad was not there for my graduation, since he was in Vietnam. I went to college and joined ROTC. Like my father, I joined the military life. I was commissioned a 2LT and spent 21 years in the Army.

The BIGGEST AND MOST IMPORTANT THING I received from my Dad was a deep love of America and a commitment to service. He never sat me down and told me this — we lived it. By living all around our country and traveling by car from coast to coast, I truly appreciate the greatness and beauty of America. My Dad is still alive and I thank God for every day that he remains with us, but I know his time is short. He has fought the good fight and has truly served this country. I love him very much and I love America very much. I am, and always will be a “brat” … and I will always be proud of it!

— Ron (Michigan)

I am a Navy reservist currently stationed in Kuwait. I have five sons who I miss dearly. I would love an opportunity to see them all together for just one picture. My son Christian lives in Houston, Texas; my son Teagan lives in Republic, Mont; and my three stepsons, Bret, Bryce and Branden live at home with my beautiful wife Mary. They are all my military brats and I love and miss each of them dearly. What I would give to have just one picture! I'm not sure when I'll be home, but I salute them for their love and support.

— Roy L. Showalter (MA2 (SW) Theater Field Confinement Facility, Detatchment Charlie, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait)

My father was career Air Force. He was assigned to SAC bases throughout the U.S. We moved around so much that the military really became our family. If we ever met anyone that lived in our home state, we felt related! My family never lived on base and I always envied the kids that did. They had a theater, pool, library, and lots of places to ride bikes. The father of one of my friends was a veterinarian at Gunter AFB in Montgomery, Ala — he allowed my friend and myself to ride a horse on base! That was the life, and just one of my fond memories of being a military brat.

— Linda Streiff Gilreath


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