(Military) Home is Where the Heart IS

For a military family, where is home? You move every three years, possibly to other countries (Korea, Japan, England, Germany, Germany, Germany [because so many were stationed in Germany]). Maybe the Philippines, maybe diplomatic schools in Burkina Faso. I lived in Iceland. The children have disruptions of changing schools. But for some, it doesn’t matter because your family hasn’t been settled 50 years in the area, so you are slime.

Just got a call from a lady complaining that my story about a former Bremerton man dying in Afghanistan shouldn’t have been on the front page. She said she wasn’t being cold-hearted but that the man, Johnny C. Walls, wasn’t a resident. He grew up here and graduated from Bremerton High but left for the Army right after that and has been gone for 22 years. Much of his family still lives in Port Orchard.

I can’t say that I agree with her. We’ve had seven guys killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, including a contractor, and some of them had skinnier ties to the area. It’s not something that happens very often, and I don’t think the person needs to live his whole life here to get his due.
She had a good point, but I don’t agree with it. Judging by the comments at the bottom of the story, it appears several people remember growing up with him.

Johnny’s brother and sister, Harvey and Roxana, were great to talk to and I wish them the best.

She doesn’t have a good heart, she has an insular heart. She ignores anyone she does not personally know, so she is a bigot. I congratulate the local paper for acknowledging that. I know the area this report came from, and most folks’ ancestors came there during WW II at the earliest.

(I’m not a military brat, but I know many and am insulted by this)

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Richard Gardner
About Richard Gardner
Richard Gardner is a “retired” Navy Submarine Officer with military policy, arms control, and budgeting experience. He contributed over 100 pieces to OTB between January 2004 and August 2008, covering special events. He has a BS in Engineering from the University of California, Irvine.


  1. John Burgess says:

    I first moved abroad at 16. My high school (a DOD dependent’s school) is in Ankara, Turkey. We held our first reunion in 1992, in Dallas, TX. Dallas was chosen for its ‘being in the middle-ness’ and relatively easy flight connections.

    As a result of that reunion–a multi-year affair that drew over 300–mailing lists started up. That where we define our real ‘home’, along with formal reunions every five years in Dallas and ad hoc ‘minis’.

    ‘Home’ is how you define it, where you define it, and why you define it. For military brats, foreign service brats, and other who live a traveling life, we’ll each define it individually and likely on multiple levels. Where your family’s from is only one of those levels.

  2. bains says:

    I am an Army brat, and so were my father and both his parents. I did not live in one place longer than three years till I turned 24 (6 years after I left “home”). In fact, this house which we now live is the longest I’ve been in one place (6 years). I’ve numerous “homes”, mostly those places where I still have ties to, be it personal or heritage.

    The one place I dont call home, even though I lived there for three years, and I’ve family on my mother’s side there, is the Pacific Northwest. Insular is right. I have never encountered a community so unwelcoming towards outsiders as that. The times I’ve been down south, Mississippi way, the folks are much more hospitible – Funny (in a clown dying kinda sense) how my older sister being born in Vicksburg opened doors.

  3. John425 says:

    Any fallen American soldier is my friend, my neighbor and my brother.

    This Redmond, WA resident apologizes for any “northwest” insularity when it comes to the troops.