Life…as seen by two military kids

MAMF’s Artist-in-Residence for Photography Arin Yoon sent us a couple of military kids’ thoughts about life to close out Military Family Appreciation Month. Arin, an award-winning photographer and military spouse, teaches photography classes for kids and adults from wherever she’s stationed.

An American flag flutters in a military housing area.

Being part of a military family is like the wind. When we settle down, we eventually move again.

Ethan, 8th grade 

a leaf lies in the street under a car

Life is like a leaf, when you settle down, the wind blows you away again and again until the wind stops. 

Kylena, 7th grade


About the Museum of the American Military Family


Join Our Pot Holder Project

If you’d like to honor your loved one and send your creation to us, we’d love it:

Mail to 546B State Highway 333, Tijeras, NM 87059


When the Innocence of Childhood Ended

 [November 22] brings back the shocking emotions and the sense of possible worldwide crisis so clearly. We lived on a Naval base, Sangley Point, in the Philippines. My dad, Miller “Mike” T. Crownover, was the Operations Officer, 3rd in command of a seaplane squadron, VP 40. 

The assassination of President Kennedy had happened on my 15th birthday, but because of the time warp, I did not hear until the following morning. We had held a birthday party in our yard, and I remember everyone dancing and doing the Limbo. 

My grandmother came into my bedroom in our Quonset hut early the next morning to tell me the news. My dad was already off with the squadron on high alert. Looking back, I realize that the true innocence of childhood ended for me that day, and something fundamental seemed to change for America. It was definitely one of those times you wish you could reach back in history and change it.

—-Jennifer Hull

November 22– Santiago Chile. I was on our school trip bus returning from the Junior Class picnic at the end of our school year. The seasons are reversed. Driving thru the city were crowds and crowds of people, some crying, some praying, some kneeling. We thought earthquake, nuclear bomb, some unimaginable horror. 

Arriving back at school, there were crowds of parents, chauffeurs picking up their kids. It took some time to understand what had happened and our fear kept mounting. 

Even after being told Kennedy was assassinated, it didn’t seem real. It couldn’t possibly be true. I was swept into a chauffeured car with 2 other American classmates. The tears were streaming down Alberto, the chauffeur’s face. The three of us were frozen in fear of the future. 

Chile loved Kennedy and the mourning continued for days and days. Our driveway was lined around the block with condolence flowers. Mom and I delivered them to orphanages and children’s hospitals for days, but they kept coming.

—Barbara Brega Hecht


A GRANDSON IN THE MILITARY

            As I came from my first-base position to my team’s dugout after the third out in the middle of an industrial league baseball game, I learned that Marv Sodestrom had been killed in Korea. It was the summer of 1950, and a war in Korea was reaching public consciousness. Marv’s death was my first realization that this war  was for real.

            During high school, I knew of the mass casualties in World War II, but none of my classmates were ever among them. (Of course, we were mostly too young.) Marv was in a class ahead of mine, and I did not know him well. But I knew him; he knew me. And now he was dead. Killed in combat. His loss was all the more meaningful to me because I was facing the military draft. Only college had prevented my  number from coming up, and I had missed WWII but now Korea was staring at me. And had already taken a schoolmate.

            Thirty years later my wife and I sat down to dinner in the home of my new boss – a two-star general – and his wife who had also invited the two-star general Chief of Staff of U.S. Army, Europe along with his wife. I was new to the Army’s European headquarters, and my boss felt this was a good way for us to get acquainted. 

            As we took our seats, the two generals motioned for us all to take each other’s hands and pray for our soldiers in Vietnam and for wisdom to guide the political leaders who had sent them there. 

            In that thirty-year interval, I had completed college and two graduate degrees, been drafted into the Military Occupation of Germany, got married, worked as a public school teacher and a teacher in the Defense Department schools, became a father, and did four years in Washington, D.C. with a daily look at anti-war protests, Congressional squabbles, and media commentary on the course of that war in Vietnam.

            My two general officer friends had thought this three-decade history qualified me for a senior civilian position on the USAREUR staff, where I had many opportunities to work with Army, Air Force, and Navy officers and enlisted men who had seen combat and been on the front lines of the wars causing so much unrest among the civilian population back home. My years with USAREUR taught me that the military’s top brass really does care about the country, about honor and service, and, above all, really does care about the well-being of soldiers who face enemy lines and enemy fire.

            When my son-in-law enlisted in the Army and completed Officer Candidate’s School, I took pride in his decision and in his service, mostly along the East-West Frontier in the Fulda Gap, in combat deployments to the Gulf, and to his counter-terrorism engagements in behalf of national security. While I never discounted the very real possibility that those engagements often put him in harm’s way, my knowledge of the dedication and caring attitudes of his fellow officers eased some of my concerns about his safety. His wife, my daughter, who had grown up surrounded by military personnel and their families, was able to share our comforting understanding that even in combat, soldiers would do their best to keep everybody safe.

            When their son, my grandson, enlisted, however, some of that comfort evaporated. As my daughter said, “It isn’t easy to send your baby off to a hot war in Iraq.” Yet, because we were all imbued with the sense of duty and public service, we admired the soldiers in the family and accepted their commitment with much less reservation than did our civilian friends and neighbors who lacked our background and experience.

            I am not much of a worrier at any time, but I would be remiss if I didn’t worry somewhat about my grandson and his father in their Middle Eastern deployments; yet I would always think back to that dinner party with the two generals, both of whom had sons in the military, and find reassurance that we were all doing the right thing. And Marv’s sacrifice has been a constant reminder that military service in war is dangerous.

            Fortunately, both son-in-law and grandson completed their service without serious injury and can live out their lives knowing they have paid their dues. And this grandfather’s worries were never fulfilled. 

  • Allen Dale Olson

MAMF partners with One Community Auto

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center Selects One Community Auto to Handle Vehicle Donations 

ALBUQUERQUE, NM, November 15, 2020—The Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center (MAMF)  announced today an affiliation with One Community Auto to increase the value of vehicles donated in support of the organization’s mission. MAMF will work with One Community Auto to promote the program to their supporters, detailing how the fast-track program works to bring in monies for their critical missions.

One Community Auto repairs and refurbishes the donated cars and other vehicles, then sells them in their monthly online auction. The online sales effort means quicker sales, getting the monies raised to specific charities to provide additional critical funding. 

“We are appreciative of the opportunity to be part of this program,” says MAMF Secretary/Public Affairs Dr. Allen Dale Olson. “One Community Auto is a veteran owned business and works hard to support military and veteran organizations in New Mexico. Even though One Community Auto is in Albuquerque, it can accept donations from anywhere in the US. We look forward to working with One Community Auto.”

The Museum of the American Military Family and Learning Center brings together people with shared experiences showcasing and honoring those who also served–America’s Military Families.

MAMF encourages its supporters to learn more about the opportunity to turn cars into cash to support its mission by visiting https://militaryfamilymuseum.org/donate/

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For Additional Information: Dr. Circe Olson Woessner, Executive Director (505) 504-6830

Museum of the American Military Family.  546B State Highway 333  Tijeras, NM 87059


Brats and Boxes

OMG a Box meme!!! 

A box is a brat’s best friend. I always felt strange about how much I care about boxes. Not anymore. My whole life Ive struggled with throwing them away. Boxes give me comfort. It may sound strange to many of you. As an army brat, traveling the world, moving every year of your life, boxes are a big deal! Imagine being told year after year, “Here’s your box. You can put whatever you want in it.” The rest of your “life” was often thrown away or packed up where you barely found it again. 

This was your box. Hopefully a good size, sturdy and the less marked up the better. A brand new brown cardboard box. Square and clean. Inside you placed your most valuable treasure. A diary, your favorite clothes & shoes, a book or two, and maybe a toy. The box is sealed. You write your name on it – Valarie. THIS is your life.

You say good bye to your friends, you move. From Indiana, to Alabama, to Oklahoma then New Mexico. Kwajalein (a pacific island that is a mile by a mile and a half big, talk about isolation! And no TV or cars!), to Maryland, Virginia, then Germany…ya just keep moving. 

Movers come in, they take YOUR box and you hope your’s makes it. Will it be lost? Marked up? Broken open? In disarray? Oh the things you worry about especially at 8, 9, 10 years old and beyond. Will your 4 sisters (5 girls), will their boxes be ok? You worry. 

Fast forward to today. You still love boxes.
Fortunately, My husband always asks if it is ok to throw away. I have some kind of box in every room, clean little brown boxes, wooden boxes, clear boxes…Ya gotta have a good sturdy box!!! Life in a box…a lot of memories, a lot of stress and trauma. Overall a very good life. My life in boxes ❤ 

Valarie Whiting


The Power of Voting

Joana Scholtz, the Democratic candidate for the Kansas House of Representatives in District 40 wears her V-O-T-E necklace. Photo: Arin Yoon

“I came to the US from South Korea at the age of five and became a naturalized citizen when I was in college. It was a big deal – my friends threw me a party. I proudly voted in the next election to exercise my new right as a citizen. I am now a member of the military community and my spouse has been on several combat deployments in order to safeguard the freedoms of American citizens, including the very important right to vote.”

This excerpt is from an article featured in the blog, In the Luupe

–Arin Yoon


Tribute to CSM Mason by his son, Hans

OCTOBER 30, 2009 –

 Funeral CSM Gerald S. Mason

The Road to Arlington

My Tribute to my Dad

CSM Gerald Stanley Mason


Please send us a favorite memory