Bert, Air America, the Brat from Florida

God is a God of second chances.  He promised me I would be married, to a man He had chosen.  When I asked God some questions about the man, I was given a a sign about Florida.

In the next chapter, I learned that Bert, the man I had gone full circle with came from Florida.   You should have seen my face.  The Florida sign appeared in Chapter 44 The Doldrums.

It was hard to tell from his accent where he came from.  I’d just accepted him as another “Kiwi”, a fellow New Zealander.   He had been in New Zealand since he was a 12 year old boy, and has only lived in the US for 4 years of his life.  Before that he had lived in Vietnman and Thailand.  He feels right at home in Asia, loves Thai and Malaysian food, and is good at guessing which country an Asian face belongs to.  I can’t tell!

Air America pilot Doug RolstonHis father had been a US army pilot and then flown for a civilian firm called “Air America”.  When the war ended the family moved to NZ instead of returning to the States.  The children of these pilots are unique as they are the only group of children who lived in a war zone with their parents.

On his 5th birthday the precursor to the Tet Offensive began when a building in his street was bombed, about 400 metres from his home in Saigon.  He’s never forgotten that.

The Air America Brats have a special bond with each other, and I have been priviliged to meet some of them at a “Brats reunion” in Dallas.  “Brats” in this case means children of their fathers who served as pilots in the US armed forces.  They have their own culture as many of them never had a home town to grow up in.  I couldn’t have met a nicer group of people, and they were very welcoming of me.

To begin with, I was intrigued with this particular “Brat”,  but I didn’t know if I liked him very much, and he wasn’t warming to me much either!  There was something different about him.  He wasn’t like the ‘normal’ NZ man from my culture.

Here he is on the left aBert_Udorn_summer_activitiess a young boy.  He’s the blonde, and he still has that slouch!  His father Doug is the pilot above on the right.  Doug has been a hard act for his son to follow.  Both father and son are very bright men.

I am so glad they came out here and settled in NZ.  When Bert got off the plane here, the first thing he thought was “I’m home”.  He’d never been to NZ before.  And he was home.


4 thoughts on “Bert, Air America, the Brat from Florida

    • Hi Brian, it’s Bert.
      Yes it is one and the same. I’ve wondered about where you got to after leaving Udorn.
      If you are on Facebook there are several groups related to Udorn / Air America (& us brats).
      My private e-mail is
      bert dot rolston at clear dot net dot nz


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