Zoey Richardson is a typical 13-year old kid. She loves to bake cupcakes and is a self- described gamer, not a nerd — there’s a difference, she said. The teenager and her family live in Cameron, N.C., just a half hour away from Fort Bragg.
Zoey is also a military child. This month, she, along with her 11-year old sister, Emmy, and her 7-year-old brother, John, talked about the places they’ve been able to live and visit and the challenge of living apart from their Army parent.
April is the Month of the Military Child and it pays tribute to the sacrifices children make so that their parents can serve.
The Richardson children have “served” alongside their father, Staff Sgt. John M. Richardson, most of their lives. Richardson, an air traffic controller with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, has been in the Army for 12 years.
Unlike most military Families, the Richardson’s have only experienced two duty stations thus far; the family was stationed in Germany for 10 years, and they have since been at Fort Bragg.
Zoey said Germany was an amazing country to have spent most of her life in.
“Probably my favorite thing was the food,” she said. “They make … the breads and the pastries, oh, they were so good.
“We went to a lot of countries—we went to Spain, we went to Italy twice,” Zoey said. “We went to a whole bunch of little places I can’t even name. It was pretty awesome.”
Emmy said she enjoyed her life in Germany as well.
“We had a big house and we used to have a pool,” she said. “We didn’t have a very big backyard but we had a lot of forest and swamp behind it. I’d go back there and catch tadpoles. It was fun.”
John said all he remembers about Germany was the snow. He said he has made good friends in his new neighborhood in Cameron. Zoey and Emma said they made friends pretty easily as well when they moved.
“They’re very resilient,” said Sarah, the children’s mother. “They pack up and move easy. They’ve flown across the ocean I can’t even tell you how many times. They’ve got some frequent flyer miles under their belts.”
Besides relocating a few times, the Richardson children have faced another challenge common to the military child experience —their father has deployed twice. Zoey said she missed her dad when he was gone but always knew he’d come back home.
Zoey said she and her siblings kept in touch with Richardson via Internet calls and letters that they sent in care packages.
Zoey and Emmy agree that it’s great being military children, despite having to relocate or be separated from their father during deployments and training exercises.
“It’s not awesome but it’s not bad, so it’s like in the middle,” Emmy said. “I like it … and I get to see him a lot.”