Palin's Big Brother 'Excited for Her'

Chuck Heath, Jr., talks about close family's altered life after announcement.

ByABC News via logo
October 18, 2008, 11:43 AM

WASILLA, Alaska, Oct. 18, 2008 -- Chuck Heath, Jr., is proud of his little sister and a bit protective, too.

In an interview in the middle of an October snowstorm at his parents' home in Wasilla, the older brother of Gov. Sarah Palin opened up about what life has been like for the family since his sister joined the Republican White House ticket.

"I catch myself all the time just doing a double-take and pinching my skin and thinking, 'is this really my little sister in this kind of a spotlight?' And I'm excited about it. I'm excited for her and for the family and and for the country," Heath said.

He learned that Palin had been chosen by McCain the same way most of America did.

"I was in bed. We got a phone call at the house at about 5:15 Friday morning. My wife was up early getting ready for work and she patted me on the back and said 'hey um we just got a phone call and they said that Sarah is possibly going to be named as John McCain's running mate' and I rolled over and looked at her. I said 'just leave me alone and let me sleep for awhile longer.'"

Fifteen minutes later he jolted awake when he saw his sister being introduced by McCain in Ohio as his vice presidential pick.

It was a rare secret in a close-knit family.

Chuck was two when the Heaths first moved to Alaska. Sarah was an infant. They lived in a cabin.

"It was in a small town of Scagway, which probably had four or five hundred people and I remember as a kid just loving the community. We were right there on the ocean so we fished every day after school and had our own crab traps and dad hunted in the area too, so he was happy."

The move from Idaho was supposed to last only a year. But the family stayed in Scagway for five years before moving to the Anchorage area and then settling in Wasilla.

For those five years, they lived off the land, with no road access to the outside world.

"The hunting for our food and that's something that our family's done. We still do today. I honestly didn't have my first beef steak until I was a senior I high school," Heath said.