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Roberta (Bobbi) Lionetti

The Adventure of a Lifetime: My Life as an Army Wife

My life as an Army wife began June 11, 1961. Don and I were fresh out of college, in love and ready for anything. Over the nearly 34 years Don was in the Army, we had many different and interesting assignments.

In 1964 we were sent to Germany with Laura, a soon to be two-year-old. We were stationed in the north of Germany about two hours from Bremerhaven. The unit was very small so we were not on a post but lived in German housing with no Americans close by. I didn’t speak German so there was a lot of guessing and pointing,  but we made it work.

We had a townhouse with two floors, a basement, and an attic to dry clothes. There was a large concrete vat in the basement that you were supposed to light a fire under to heat your water and then insert your clothes and wash them. No way. We bought a wringer washing machine from the PX at Bremerhaven instead. Even that was an adventure as I had never used one in my life! It felt like I was going back in time. I did have to learn to use a coal stove in the kitchen to heat the house since Don was on duty every third night. There was a small electric water heater over sink, a tiny refrigerator, and no cabinets.

One fun memory was when a knock on my door presented a chimney sweep in all his gear and coal dust face. He did not speak English so I had to figure out what he wanted. It seemed our unit was the one he needed to get to the attic in to service the unit’s chimneys. At the time, polaroid cameras were new and I had one. I got him to pose and showed him the picture. He wanted to pay me for it but I took another and just gave it to him. That was supposed to be lucky to see a chimney sweep. It was a great day.

The German people were friendly, including our next-door neighbors. The husband fought in war but never against Americans he said. He had been captured by the Russians but escaped because he wanted to be captured by Americans as he knew he would receive better treatment. They had a daughter that would baby sit for me and a teenage son.

He was a retired fighter pilot and now flew a glider and they invited us to go for a ride in the glider. The neighbor took Don up. Then when they came back, I got in and his son was the pilot. As I was up in the sky I looked down and saw my family, and wondered why in the world am I up here with a teenager? All went well and it was a beautiful feeling, window open, no noise and smooth.

Our second child, Don Jr, was born in Bremerhaven at the US military hospital. The US government did not want us to give birth in a German hospital, so unless you lived close to the military hospital, you had to stay at the hospital beginning two weeks before your due date until the birth. Luckily my in-laws came over to watch Laura. Naturally Don was not around for delivery again. We had to register the baby with the German government before you could leave the hospital.

We moved three times during this tour in Germany,  all in the North. The last stop was in British sector where units were built for us but it was still pretty remote. I had to use a field phone for Don to contact me or the headquarters to contact him.

People have asked me what was your greatest adventure to which I answer “My life as a military wife.“   I really loved it .













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