Bert, Air America, the Brat from Florida

God is a God of second chances.  He promised me a happy second marriage to a man He’d chosen, who I’d meet after ‘going around a circle.’  The promise he gave me was from Jerermiah 23:16.

*You can read about it in my book extract “The Word at the levelled hill” at the end of the post.

“How would I find him?” I asked.

“Set up signposts,
Make landmarks;
Set your heart toward the highway,” the King told me, indicating I should write a story setting up the signs and marking the road.

“Where should I go?” I asked, wanting to return to Sydney.

Turn back to these your cities.
How long will you gad about,
O you backsliding daughter?” the King replied, indicating to me it was a place I had to ‘turn back to.’  I hoped he meant Sydney.

“You will go full circle around him,” the King added.

“For the Lord has created a new thing in the earth—
A woman shall encompass a man.”

Where is he from?” I asked, hoping full-circle was Sydney.

“Florida,” the King signed.

That threw a spanner in the works.

All I could do after that was wait.

The Florida sign appears in the part of my book where I’m in ‘the Doldrums.’

Five years later I went full circle after going back to a college I’d ‘turned back to.’

I’d previously been employed at as a science technician.  This time I was the computer technician.

Both times I replaced Bert and both times he told me he didn’t have time to train me.  This time I insisted on training.

At lunch one day during training he revealed he was American.  When I asked where he was from, he said ‘Florida.’  I’ll leave you to imagine the look on my face.

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’s been in New Zealand since he was twelve and has only lived in the US for four 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!

Doug, Pilot

Doug Rolston, Air America

His father, whose picture is on the right, 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 fifth 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 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 as a young boy.  He’s the blonde, and he still has that slouch!  His father Doug is the pilot in the picture above.  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


* Book extract: The word at the levelled hill

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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