Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, October 08, 2014


             Bobby was a brat. He was also an eighth grader. The year: sometime in the late ‘60s. The place: Oslo, Norway.

Being the mischievous type, Bobby and his buddies decided they wanted to investigate an old German bunker situated atop a hill overlooking the Oslo Fjord in Norway. The door into the bunker was locked with steel bars. They had to figure a way to blow the door off. No problem! Copious amounts of gunpowder should do the trick. After all, there were potentially wonderful things to be discovered inside. Who knew what Nazi paraphernalia might be just lying there waiting for some curious teenager to discover.

Well, Bobby and pals lit the fuse and Boom! The door sailed out the opening of the bunker allowing the young scamps to wander into the long-enclosed bunker. The interior of the bunker was much larger than they had realized with one room revealing large maps of various parts of planet earth. In the process of enjoying their discovery, alarms went off, accompanied by Danish soldiers who were part of the United Nations security force for this particular bunker which was part of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) defense system. “NATO is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4 April 1949. The organization constitutes a system of collective defense whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party” (read: Russia).

So the boys are standing there in the bunker with these Danish soldiers pointing their rifles at them. The general in charge of this NATO facility comes in and the boys are interrogated at length. The general is British and gives the boys a severe tongue lashing before releasing them to their fathers.

Bobby, dutifully chastened by this time, knows he’s in for it. He sits quietly in his father’s car as they drive home. Knowing he’s probably not going to see another sunrise, he finally asks his dad as they arrive home, “Well, what are you going to do to punish me, dad?” His dad, an Army special forces senior NCO turned to him and said, “Nothing.” Dumbfounded, Bobby says, “Nothing? You’re not going to punish me?” “No,” dad says. “Well why not?” asks Bobby. “Because,” his dad said, “I’ve been trying for a long time to convince these fools that they need to beef up their security.” “But the general was really mad!” Bobby replied. “Yes, he was. But, son, do you think he’s going to write a report about this where he would have to admit that some thirteen year old boys broke into a NATO bunker? Not on your life!”

This story was shared by Bobby Murphy last week when Isaura and I were attending the 28th Annual Overseas Brats Reunion in New Braunfels, Texas. He had us practically rolling on the floor in laughter with the telling of this escapade.

Overseas Brats are, by definition, folks who at some point in their lives attended a DOD school (Department of Defense) somewhere around the globe while growing up. Most of these folks were the children of at least one career military parent. Occasionally, as in my case, you were civilians living in a foreign country because your dad worked for an American corporation. We would be allowed to attend the school, which in my case along with my sister Joy, was the Oslo American School (OAS). Our brother, John, being older, attended Dreux (pronounced: drew) Air Force Base in France for his senior year in high school.

Every year for the past 28 years since the organization of Brats was formed, folks have been gathering to reconnect, sharing a special bond that is unique to the military brat. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, many of these brats grow up to be career military people themselves. For instance, Bobby Murphy retired as an Army Ranger. Bart Bartlett retired as an Army colonel. Pat Cavanaugh retired as an Army major general. And I retired as a Navy captain. There are many others, but you get the idea.

One of the unique aspects of Brats is they are pretty good at laughing at themselves. They know their life experience growing up is very different from kids in America. They can usually expect to experience at least six to ten moves by the time they graduate from high school. Friends are made quickly when you arrive at your next duty station because you know the likelihood of being together more than two years is remote. Oddly enough, those friendships tend to last. That’s why it is such an uplifting experience to get together again with other Brats.

So for you Military Brats out there, get connected with us and reunite with old friends.

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