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I am a military brat—and I say that with great pride. My sisters and I went traipsing all over the world with my father and mother; he, a United States Army colonel; she, the general in charge of our family.

Because we were brats, we grew up in the eye of the storm…

michael-joseph-lyons3-web-bdrWe lived in Yokohama, Japan, just a few years after Japan surrendered and World War II ended. We were in the crowd the day the Emperor of Japan came out in public for the first time ever to show himself to the Japanese people. Before that, the Japanese had thought of their emperor as a god, not a mere human. Those were the days when raising brats was often a shared responsibility between parents and a local nanny. So I answered to General Mom and my Japanese nanny, Kasikosan. To my family, I spoke English; to my nanny, I spoke Japanese. Our first brat adventures, at least that I remember, took place in post-war Japan.

I wasn’t alive when my father went off to World War II, but I felt it when he went off to the Korean War. That was the first time he left us for a year.In that war he was a liaison officer with a Korean Infantry unit, during which he was awarded the Bronze Star.

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Returning to the States after two years in Japan. Note the Japanese outfits.

When things heated up between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War in the late 1950s, we were stationed with the 4th Armored Division at Cooke Barracks in Göppingen, Germany.There we had many grand adventures playing in Nazi bunkers, pillboxes, and bombed-out buildings. For the second time, my sisters and I had a nanny. This time the language was German. But it wasn’t all just fun and games; we also had to come to terms with the constant threat of Soviet tanks up on the Iron Curtain, and our father disappearing again and again when 4th Armored was confronted with Red Alerts. Our own nanny had escaped from East Germany over the Iron Curtain.

In the early 1960s Cuban Americans, assuming they would receive US military support, tried to invade and overthrow the Communist government in Cuba. That is known as the Bay of Pigs.

When it happened, we were stationed with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and because of that invasion my father was gone for a time. The same had happened the year before when an American U2 spy plane got shot down while on a secret mission over Russia.

Then, when the Berlin Wall went up and he was called upon to help resupply Berlin, the colonel left us once again for a whole year. No sooner were we all back together as a family when my father left again; the Cuban Missile Crisis had erupted, bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war.

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My sisters and I stationed in Germany

Of course, being brats, that didn’t stop our grand adventures. In fact, when the colonel was gone, we managed some of our best.

We were stationed in Orleans, France, with SHAPE (Strategic Allied Headquarters European Command) when France was confronted with the war in Algeria and at least three attempts on President Charles de Gaulle’s life. For three years I attended a French all-boys Catholic school, joined the French Boy Scouts, and became a French kid.

It’s not surprising that I studied political science, military science, and business in college and graduate school, at Utah State University and Boston University. Years later, while teaching at UCLA, I applied what I had learned studying military science to develop a course called The Nine Principles of War. Many of those principles for successfully fighting wars have found their way into my books.

I was commissioned a second lieutenant in June of 1973. I spent four years on active duty, three of those years were with V Corp in Frankfurt, Germany. Afterward, I was in the reserves for a few years, finally leaving the Army with the rank of captain.

All totaled, I spent twelve years in Europe and two years in Japan, most of them as a brat.

1LT Michael Joseph Lyons up on the Iron Curtain with V Corp in 1975

For me the Army was great at developing my management skills and also gave me excellent computer science training. I have spent many years since leaving the military as an entrepreneur in the software industry.

Today I live in the Chicago area with my amazingly smart, never predictable, but always fun wife and our two dogs. One of the dogs is a marshmallow of a golden retriever, and the other a wily, in charge mutt the kids rescued from a shelter. And speaking of the kids, our seven grown children continue to be the highlight of our lives. Wherever they now roam throughout the world, the one constant is that sooner or later they all come home, not so much to a place, but to the family.

Today my focus is on writing novels about military brats. The stories are not about my life but fictional characters representing the lives of all military brats and third-culture kids. They celebrate the fascinating, rich, and rewarding life of a brat, while helping other children and young adults glimpse what life is like for kids living in the eye of the storm.

My passion is meeting brats anywhere in the world and talking with them about how to get the most out of the unique way they are being raised. Many will become tomorrow’s greatest globals.

 

 

16 Comments

  1. 7-29-2016

    I too am a military brat. Dad was a Major in the USAF and we were stationed in Tachikawa Japan and Greenham Common UK overseas. We were at 3 AFB’s in the States. Dad was also attached to the RAF for a year and we lived and I went to school with the English. It was a culturally enriching experience for me. 14 years of nomadic life before dad retired in Atlanta and I’ve never moved since. 9 schools in 12 years but I did get to go to one high school from beginning to the end. I too am a published novelist and short story writer with 11 published. I married an Army brat but never served myself. I wasn’t interested in that sort of life anymore. It was an interesting life and gave me a world perspective. I wonder when we will have a Brat in the White House?

  2. 8-20-2016

    Being a Brat was the best experience we could have. I find so many people our age and see so many in life that don’t know how to get along with other people outside their little ‘family’. We learned to adapt, to converse and to handle problems that civie kids could never imagine. I remember playing in the blown out buildings around my apartment in Frankfurt 1952-1955. I can still remember the smell from the rice patties in Korea, and the aroma from the little bakery in Fountainebleau, France. I look forward to reading your book(s). If they are good, I’ll pass a recommendation on to my fellow Brats, including my 2 children.

  3. 1-24-2017

    Can’t wait to read your stories. We had a similar path- quite possible that my dad crossed paths with yours, especially during the rescue/ exchange of Francis Gary Powers after he was shot down over Russia. My dad did the exchange…

    We were in Saipan, Japan 53-55
    Frankfurt, Germany 57-63
    Taipei, Taiwan 66-66 ( my dad was in Vietnam)

    The house pictures in my website below is a replica of the safe house our family often stayed in, Germany.

    • 4-28-2017

      We definitely need to talk some time. Especially when it comes to book 3 which involves the Francis Gary Power time in Berlin.

  4. 4-21-2017

    I’m not a Brat but interested!

    • 4-28-2017

      Frank, I grant you are not a military brat–but I have always figured you could have been. You have the right stuff. Stay tuned. Soon enough this book will finally give birth.

  5. 4-28-2017

    Always a Brat…we had a window to the world! I am a woman, mom, wife, I am a brat. That never goes away, nor do I want it to! Ten homes in 18 years with Kwajalein and Germany standing out strongly as the favs! A Ktown graduate in the bicentennial 1976, that was the life!!

  6. 6-21-2017

    I was privileged to teach at Frankfurt American High School from 1964-70. I will never forget the “brats” I taught. They were and are among the most courageous, generous, and optimistic people I have ever known. I salute all of you, and I send my sincerest congratulations and love. God bless you!

  7. 8-7-2017

    My father worked in Paris in the early sixties to mid sixties and before that in Germany, various places and Battle Monuments, a lonely job like no other. Not all of them were nice, at times a serious struggle. The third culture required early independence, language skills and traveling abilities on your own. Played with German Flak Shells in the 3rd grade. We collected them, removed the powder for pyrotechnics and one of my dutch friends blew part of his ear off.

    • 8-7-2017

      John, we were in France at the same time. I was in Orleans. And if you haven’t read BRAT and the Kids of Warriors yet, you’ll find those brats fascinated by the Flak shells. The pyrotechnics won’t come into the story till book 3:)

  8. 10-28-2017

    I am a proud Air Force Brat, Navy wife and mother of an Army officer. I loved this book. I feel like it’s the first book I’ve ever read where I could actually relate to the childhood.
    I will be sharing this book info with other “Brat” friends!

    • 10-28-2017

      Thanks Teresa, it means a lot to me that you relate to the story. Another brat told me the other day she was reading it aloud to her kids and it prompted a lot of discussion about what it was like for her growing up. That to made me smile.

  9. 12-31-2017

    Eager to read this book. Have enjoyed the non-fiction Brat’s books in the past few years. I’m an Air Force Brat, three first grades, and who can count up all the other moves?? Have sincerely appreciated our unique life experiences growing up moving, changing schools, making new friends, learning to navigate in our complex world. Attended a Japanese university for my 2nd year of college and then was out of the military experience until way later in the 9oties when some former Brat friends found me and I attended a few reunions. Being connected as an adult after all those years away from brats and military life has proven delightful and satisfying. Have enjoyed this trail of comments.

    • 1-2-2018

      Margaret, I too spent some time in Japan and loved it. In my case I was pretty young, but it made a big impression. It must have really been something to go to a Japanese University. Do you speak the language?
      You have probably already figured this out but you can get the book, BRAT and the kids of Warriors on Amazon, or if you want a signed copy order it from my site at http://www.michaeljosephlyons.com/brat-and-the-kids-of-warriors/
      let me know what you think of the story. For me getting feedback is a big deal.

  10. 1-6-2018

    Really enjoyed your book. I am a BRAT, Dad was in the signal corps and became a high ranking army intelligence officer. I was born in Maryland in 1944, where I lived three days. Among the places I lived were Toelle, Utah (1845-46), Yokohama and Tokyo, Japan (1947-1952), Arlington, Virginia (1952-1955), Oberammergau, Germany (1955-1957), Frankfurt, Germany (1957-1959), Arlington, Virginia (1959-1961), Moscow, USSR and Geneva, Switzerland (1961-1962). I went to college in Providence, Rhode Island before going to Francein 1964 where I lived for 32 years as a singer-songwriter and elementary school music teacher. I moved back to the States in 1996 where I have lived (Miami, Florida) ever since. I got my Ph.D. In music education from the University of Miami in 2001. I am currently a visiting scholar (typical title for a BRAT— we are always visiting!) in the Musicology department at the University of Miami. I remember lots of things from your book…it helped explain a lot of things about myself and I couldn’t put it down. Looking forward to your next one!

    • 1-7-2018

      Roger, thanks so much for your comment on BRAT and the Kids of Warriors. Can’t tell you how much I liked hearing from you. I laughed about (typical title for a BRAT— we are always visiting!). Enjoy the teaching. Long ago I spent 5 years teaching at UCLA and have to say I loved it.

      If you compare my brat bio with where you were stationed we definitely have overlap:)

      Rest assured I am working hard on book two. Stay tuned.

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