My Army Brat Friend, Eric

MarkSiebert // May 21 // 0 Comments

Unbreakable Bonds

An Army Brat's Journey Through Friendship and Adventure

In the midst of the Cold War, both our fathers, stationed in the army, were assigned to Berlin, Germany. It was in this historic city where Eric and I first crossed paths, marking the beginning of our shared history as army brats. We navigated the complexities of our transient life through adventures like dumpster diving at the commissary, uncovering small treasures like marshmallows.

A few years later, our lives intersected again, this time due to the escalating conflict in Vietnam. Our fathers, now reassigned to Southeast Asia, led our families to find a new home in Green Cove Springs, Florida. It was here that we reunited, rekindling our friendship amidst the uncertainty of the war. In this new chapter, our shared escapades ranged from building forts from construction scraps, placing pennies on the railroad tracks, to exploring a fire-damaged house near those same tracks.

As we grew older, our lives diverged. Eric pursued a military career, attending West Point, joining the cavalry, and eventually reaching the rank of Major. A new path opened up for him when he was accepted into John Hopkins for medical school. After graduation, he was assigned to the Panama Canal.

On the other hand, I decided to carve a different path after 18 years of military life. I found myself drawn to the University of Minnesota, where I earned a degree in Liberal Arts. This led me to a sundry of experiences, working for a multitude of different companies.

In our mid-twenties, our paths crossed again in Alexandria, Virginia. During the process of navigating a difficult divorce, Eric and his wife Robin graciously opened his home to me. During these weeks spent with Eric and Robin, I was introduced to windsurfing. A memorable day at the Chesapeake Bay saw me losing a sneaker and gaining several bruises, but also discovering a newfound passion for the sport.

After moving to Kansas City amidst my divorce, I accepted a job with the Associated Press. I found a new home near Shawnee Mission Park, which had a small, enticing lake. The authorities prohibited swimming, but they allowed windsurfing. I embraced the sport, learning how to windsurf on the lake at the park, and later exploring other lakes around Kansas City. One of these was Lake Perry, where I learned how to harness into a windsurfer, a technique that added a new layer of excitement to the sport.

After I moved to Kansas City, I saw less of Eric and Robin. A decade passed before our paths crossed again. In 2014, when my father passed away, Eric and his family came to honor his memory at the memorial service. Their presence was a comforting reminder of our enduring bond.

Nearly nine more years elapsed before I saw Eric again. During this time, glimpses of their lives would filter through posts on Facebook, maintaining a thread of connection despite the distance and years. I reached out to Eric while planning a visit to my parents' gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery. He was planning a trip to New Orleans to attend the Jazz Festival in the French Quarter. Given the closer proximity, I decided to meet them there. We enjoyed the vibrant music and the rich culture of New Orleans, catching up on the years gone by.

From our childhood as army brats in Berlin and Florida, to shared adventures in Virginia, individual pursuits in Kansas City, and finally our reunion in New Orleans, these experiences shaped our enduring bond. My relationship with Eric remained a constant through life's highs and lows. Despite the different paths we each took, and the distances that sometimes separated us, our connection remained strong. I consider myself fortunate. Most army brats lose touch with their childhood friends once their families are reposted, but with Eric, that wasn't the case. Our shared past, and the continuing journey, served as a reminder of our enduring friendship.

About the Author MarkSiebert

Hi, I'm Mark. The Teller of Tales Spawned from the Footlocker. Join me on a journey from the stories that have been curating for over fifty years. I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I have written them.

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