VMF 222 labeled

NANDSBFA                                    December 2018

When I was nine-years old, my Marine Corps dad came back from a year in Korea. We moved from living near my grandparents in Rockport Texas to our next duty station – The Naval and Net Depot Seal Beach Fallbrook Annex (NANDSBFA). As a Marine Corps brat, this was a luxurious California assignment because we now had an individual home on an acre of land on the military base. There was a huge vegetable garden and there were gardeners and maintenance people to take care of everything.

If you have never lived on a military base, you cannot imagine how different it can be. You are surrounded by guards 24/7/365. Most of the time that is a good thing. However, if you decide to run away from home, like I did that year, it might not work out so well. My dad had me arrested at the main gate, and they threw me into the brig until he came to pick me up. The rest of the time our level of protection was extraordinary.

Then my world changed. On my dad’s side, an aunt died and dad’s brother couldn’t handle the situation.   My cousins, two girls and a boy, came to live with us. To this day it amazes me that my parents took this on. We were now a family of five kids. Military pay was not very good, and it did not prefer or accommodate large families. Our ability to survive financially went down with each added child. Yet, my parents stepped up.

When I see a military family now, it takes me back to those times, and I want to share a few things with you about that life. Dad would leave for a couple weeks or a couple years.   The whole time he was gone, you never knew if he was going to come back alive or damaged physically or emotionally.   Army and Air Force brats get to move with their dads to foreign duty stations, but the Navy and Marine Corps brats rarely do. When you are seven years old and Dad walks out that last day and says, “You are the man of the house now; take care of your Mother.” He means it.   So we grew up quicker than most.

Mom was in a terrible way from then on because she knew more intimately all that could go wrong with Dad and with our situation.   The families with deployed moms AND dads – well, I can’t even imagine what that would be like. The stress for all of them is at a level I hope none of you ever have to experience.

So when you see a military family, remember what they are doing to protect your way of life. They do not argue with their Commander in Chief; they go. If you want to do something special, pay their restaurant bill or find some other way to thank them for their service. If you know the family of a deployed soldier, sailor, or airdale, discover some way to help them out, especially this time of year.

When the family is home and the service member is not, Christmas can be a lonely time. As well, some are stationed at a base near you with no place to go for Christmas dinner. If you contact the base, they may have a program to send a service member, or two, over for dinner, which would be a blessing for everyone involved.


So, Merry Christmas my friends.           -Bob

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