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Military family settles into small-town Texas life

Military family settles into small-town Texas life
PASCALLE BIPPERT U.S. Air Force Maj. Brandon Bard and his family (from left) mother-in-law Nancy Parker, wife Heather, and daughter Rhianna are joined by four-legged family members Saxton, Dadie, and Sable on the patio of their home near La Vernia, where they’re settling into country life and Texas traditions like Friday-night football!

The Bard family has come “home” to Texas, after their military life took them other places.

Heather is from Crosbyton, up in the Texas Panhandle. Brandon, a major in the U.S. Air Force, is a native of San Jose, Calif.

They were living in South Carolina, where Brandon was stationed. His 10-year assignment there was ending and the family wanted to return “home” to Texas. The family ...which also includes Heather and Brandon’s 17-year-old daughter, Rhianna, and Heather’s mother, Nancy Parker looked online at properties in Helotes and places all around San Antonio.

There was something special about this house in La Vernia, Heather said. The front yard was covered in bluebonnets.

“I’ve wanted bluebonnets since I was little,” Heather said.

Heather, Rhianna, and Nancy visited La Vernia to check it out and really liked the area. They also went to Sammy’s Mexican Restaurant and had carne guisada.

“That sealed the deal!” Heather said.

Although Brandon grew up in San Jose, his family kept moving away from the traffic and busy areas and farther out of the city. His family now lives in Oregon.

The Air Force linguist ...he speaks Japanese and Korean endured traffic that forced him to drive 1-1/2 hours to travel 15 miles to work while stationed in Seoul, South Korea. He’d had enough of that. Part of the appeal of La Vernia is his short commute to work at the 68th Warfare Squadron, where he is second in command in San Antonio.

Another plus was the weather, Heather said. While living in Graniteville, S.C., near the Georgia state line, they didn’t experience any hurricanes, she said, but they had an ice storm that left them without electricity for three days. Then they experienced an earthquake. She was ready to come home to Texas!

Brandon didn’t exactly fall in love with the La Vernia house at first sight. But then he saw the almost five acres of land and decided he could make it home.

“I didn’t want to live in a postage stamp,” he said. “We have the land, so we can have chickens, I can practice archery and raise a garden, and this spring I can raise honeybees. I fell in love with the smaller life.”

They’ve really settled in to country life. Heather has harvested and canned jalape’o peppers and also harvests about eight eggs a day from her chickens.

Her mother, Nancy, said, “It’s homey. Wherever the family is, I’m happy.”

The couple also researched the La Vernia school district and liked what they found.

Rhianna is about to start her senior year in La Vernia and plans to attend the University of Texas to study nursing. A cheerleader at her last school, she is now a member of the HoneyBears dance team and will perform at every football game.

“I am so excited to be part of the Texas Friday night football experience again!” Heather exclaimed.

Her husband has never experienced Texas football fervor, but now he’s going to see what Heather is so excited about.

Heather works at Break Thru, a medically managed drug rehabilitation center in San Antonio. She also volunteers for Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, and transports animals from the group’s San Antonio facility to its Kendalia site.

The family has three dogs Saxton, Dadie, and Sable and a cat named Santa Paws. Sable won second place in the La Vernia News Pet Parade contest in July; Santa Paws has been featured in the newspaper’s “Furred, Finned, and Feathered Friends” photos.

Heather will celebrate her 40th birthday soon. Friends and family plan to come from Oregon, South Carolina, Abilene, Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, and San Antonio to celebrate with her. Their visitors will stay in Floresville hotels, Heather said, since La Vernia has none.

They’ve found a church home in the First Baptist Church of La Vernia.

And they’ve persuaded another military family to retire to the La Vernia area.

“I am so happy we ended up here!” Heather said, with tears in her eyes.

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