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Reviewed by Nino Lobiladze for Readers' Favorite
Military families are always on the move, traveling around the world. Bob's family was no exception. Sergeant Major Richard "Dick" Heath and his beautiful wife, Virginia Mae, or Jinny, raised nine children: Dan, Dave, Bob, Mike, Rachel, Jim, Steve, Rick, and Pat. Richard's and Virginia's early years fell in the Great Depression. They valued hard work and, from the very beginning, wanted to have a large family. Richard participated in the North Africa campaign during WWII and was discharged from the Army with honors in 1945. A gifted mechanic, he couldn't find enough opportunities to support his family and soon reenlisted in the US Army. The Heaths spent three years in Japan, where Richard was assigned after his reenlistment. Meanwhile, their family was growing up with "brats," or military children, to be raised in different cultures, often very far away from home. Growing Up Army by Robert R. Heath Sr. is for fans of memoirs with historical background, humor, and military themes.
I appreciated the tremendous job Robert R. Heath Sr. did in researching many historically significant documents from the National Archives and collecting humorous stories from his eight siblings and mother to prepare the material for Growing Up Army. Robert added precious family pictures and excerpts from the Army reports to illustrate this memoir. The author offers historical facts and fascinating, lesser-known details about the operations conducted at the fronts of WWII. Robert describes in vivid detail the duty stations where Richard Heath served abroad and across the US. The author mentions the challenges American military families faced in Japan and Taiwan after WWII, yet points out the friendliness of the Asian people and their willingness to help foreigners. And, of course, the many incredible shenanigans of the brats, their adventures abroad, and their efforts to adjust to the southern way of life were very interesting to follow. This wonderful memoir will not disappoint those readers who appreciate families with many children and the overall atmosphere of warmth and mutual support peculiar to them.