Nine years ago today, I walked down to the newspaper stand on the Redstone Arsenal military post to fetch a copy of The Huntsville Times that included an article featuring our family.  I still remember the days preceding it when the news reporter and photographer stopped by our house to do an article about military families for the Veterans Day issue.  They stayed and talked into the evening, so the photographer had to come out the next day to get a good family photo of us in the daylight.  So, on Veterans Day morning, if you managed to flip past the news of Al Gore pleading his cause against George W. Bush in the tumultuous Election 2000, you would eventually reach the page that pictured the final result of our interview…

Family Forces: November 11, 2000

The Huntsville Times Saturday, November 11, 2000

Family forces

When there’s a career Army person at home, everyone is on duty

By PAT NEWCOMB Times Staff Writer

Amanda Read counts on her fingers.  She was born in El Paso.  From there she moved to Monterey, Calif.  She moved next to Ithaca, N.Y.  Then it was Germany, with a two-month stay in Uzbekistan.  Then West Point and now Huntsville.  Amanda is 10.  A pretty girl with long brown hair and olive-shaped eyes, Amanda is what is often referred to as an “Army brat”.  Her dad, Bryan Read, is a major in the U.S. Army.

But Amanda is no brat.  She’s articulate and self-assured.  She helps her mom, Chris, take care of her four younger siblings.  She’s smart, too.  “They know their geography,” said Bryan Read of his children.  “Amanda can point out on a globe where we’ve lived.”

For now, home is Huntsville.  The family of seven lives in a modest, red-sided rancher on Redstone Arsenal.  Chris Read has made it home, with family photos, baskets and a piano that has nicks in it from many moves.  Those scratches are memories, said Bryan Read.  “Each one represents a different move,” he said.

He is one of more that 1,500 active-duty military members stationed at Redstone Arsenal.  More than 2,500 military dependents are also on the rolls.  A typical tour of duty at Redstone is three years, said Dan O’Boyle, a Redstone spokesman.

Bryan Read has been in the Army for 15 years.  He and Chris have been married 12 of those.  Before she and Bryan married, Chris had lived all her life in Tuscaloosa where her father, Roger Sayers, was president of the University of Alabama.  She was a nursing student at Alabama when she met Bryan, who was from Jacksonville.  He was in ROTC while in college and went into the Army after graduating.

Moving with children, especially five ranging in age from 10 to 1, is no picnic.  It takes a lot of organization, said Chris Read. “I try not to be too much of a pack rat,” she said.  Because of their frequent moves, the Reads have eliminated one difficulty.  Their kids are home schooled so they don’t have to move them in midyear.  The Reads also do it because they want to include religious study as part of their children’s education.

A little room off the kitchen serves as a one-room schoolhouse for the Read children.  It’s a tiny room, but their education has been broad because of their military life.  “There’s been something about each place we’ve lived that I’ve enjoyed,” said Chris Read, “that I’ve been glad the children have experienced.”

It’s not that there haven’t been sacrifices.  The family has never had a pet, unless you count a hermit crab.  They want a dog, but that’s not a good idea because of the potential for moving overseas. They have had to leave friends.  And there’s always the possibility the country may go to war, and Bryan Read will have to go fight.  “I think that’s always something in the back of your mind,” said Chris Read.

But Bryan Read accepts that as part of his obligation.  “It’s what the American people pay us to do.   They’ve invested a lot in us.”

The Reads expect to be in Huntsville through the summer, maybe a little longer.  They don’t know what’s next.  He is a foreign language officer.  He speaks fluent Russian and that may determine his next assignment.

Keith Argraves

For years, my siblings and I have listened to stories of great heroes from history through the Your Story Hour tapes.  One of the stories we heard several times was that of Keith Argraves, a paratrooper, POW and man of Faith during World War II.  We didn’t know until now that he was indeed the cousin of our maternal great-grandmother.  This Veterans Day surprise will make his biography all the more exciting to read!



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