A BRAC Smack

I realize there are painful decisions to be made and that copious caterwauling will ensue when the fickle finger of fate points at your base. For instance; when they closed MCAS El Toro and MCAS Tustin. Beyond the historic significance of the bases, we’d spent so much combined time there (Lt. Grinch mid 50’s, Major Dad/SSgt THS ’80-’92), it seemed the orange grove perfume smothering a hot, pre-dawn flightline would forever coat our lungs. Sadly not. In a masterful bit of offensive maneuvering, the Marine Corps offered up it’s two jewels of the West. They knew a sacrifice somewhere would be called for and chose to name the poison themselves, rather than let the commission pick them to pieces. We ~ all Aviation Marines far and wide ~ were outraged, spewing venom and threats and tears. But, once the noise died down, we were philosophic and resigned. (Also, to be honest, secretly delighted.*) We’ve watched BRACs come and go since, sometimes thinking ‘yeah, I always wondered why they needed 8 of those’ or scratching our head in bemusement at the commission of the day’s reasoning. NAS Pensacola has been targeted for one of those head scratchers this go ’round. Remember Navy OCS in ‘Officer and a Gentleman’? That’s been in balmy Pensacola for some years now. I mean, the candidates are outside marching, running, formations, inspections; you know, you all saw the movie. They spend a good part of their day outside. In their wisdom, this year’s BRAC has seen a need to move OCS out of Pensacola. WHICH we could handle under normal circumstances. But they’ve chosen to move it to:

Rhode Island.


*Nobody told me there was an AIRPORT here!

For years the encroachment around the base had rendered flight ops more and more difficult. There had to be weeks worth of notices in the paper if night carrier practices were to be held. God help the pilot who touched down 2 seconds after the posted 1 a.m. ( or whatever) landing time. Even during the day “ACK! He was SO LOW he took my expensive custom terra cotta roof tiles off!” The phones on base would light up, invective would take over the airwaves and letters to the editor pages…gads. Ridiculous stuff. Blahblahblah. (So BAD, in fact, that I once had to keep Major Dad from questioning/crushing the manhood of a fellow diner whose wife, noting the distinctive Jarhead coif, proceeded to hold forth in a LOUD MANNER about the nasty helicopters and who needed them and why were Marines in ritzy Orange County anyway and, anyway, who needed THEM…you get it. Her husband spent the evening ineffectually asking her to lower the tone, trying to distract her with breadsticks. She would just keep glancing over to make sure Major Dad was getting the whole thing. He was. A lovely shade of purple told me so.)
Anyway, that was the general state of affairs as the Marine Corps said hasta la vista to Orange County. The same Orange County who desperately needed another international airport to lessen the impact on overwhelmed John Wayne International. It struck us that the most wonderful outcome possible ~ the most fitting payback for years of harrassment ~ from the crushing blow of losing our home ~ would be for that very thing to come about. El Toro International. A fervent wish for all the pissy anti-Marine-Corps-and-their-3-jets-at-night-once-every-6- weeks yuppie monkeys, with all their pretensions, to have to deal with the Continental 3 a.m. from Bangkok, the AirLanka 1:30 a.m. from Columbo, the Delta 2:35 from Paris, etc and so forth, and 10 minutes apart. On approach.

If there’s a God, that’ll happen. And how sweet it will be.

9 Responses to “A BRAC Smack”

  1. Mike Rentner says:

    And what a waste of an excellent airfield if it doesn’t happen that way! 🙂

  2. Cullen says:

    Have you read the latest on BRAC? Don’t even know if this year’s is still going to go through.

  3. Cullen says:

    Well. Looked as though courts were going to block it, but I guess it went through. Interesting to see how this all pans out.

  4. WunderKraut says:

    Want to know a secret? I used to live in Mission Viejo, California. The school I went to was all the way over in Tustin. We would pass El Toro every day.
    I remember one day in particular around 1982. Mom was driving us to school in our 1969 VW Bug and we were coming out of the orange groves and were going around the base when two F-4’s took off at the same time. The sound. The excitement. It was the loudest thing I have ever heard.
    I years later on the Discovery Channel while watching a show about F-4’s, some engineer made the comment that the F-4 is proof that with American engineering and big enough engines, we could make a brick fly.
    My Dad is a Vietnam vet and he often tells me of the sound of F-4’s on bombing/napalm runs. It was awesome.
    So THS, how’s that for a small world?

  5. Cullen says:

    And she still hasn’t met us.

  6. Lisa says:

    In their wisdom, this year’s BRAC has seen a need to move OCS out of Pensacola. WHICH we could handle under normal circumstances. But they’ve chosen to move it to: Rhode Island.

    Maybe because they HAVE NO WHERE ELSE TO GO!!!!
    (Sorry. Had to do it.)

  7. Cindermutha says:

    Rhode Island? If someone sneezes they’ll blast themselves off base and into Massachusetts. Now that’s a nightmare.
    I grew up on Air Force bases and I happen to like hearing the jets take off.

  8. Too small and damned difficult to formation march EVERYWHERE to EVERYTHING when the roads have snowbanks on them. Also exceedingly difficult to drop and give someone 20 on an ice sheet.
    Hurricanes we have here. Snow, no.

  9. Hey ya, Mike!! See, you guys, in the later years of my legendary career, when our birds would squeak back around the witching hour, or worse ~ when we had to test an engine we just put in a plane to make sure it didn’t blow up when they tried to fly it first thing the next morning, welllll…that meant a little trip out to the blast fence. You back the thing in, tie it down good, fire up a little something called a ‘huffer’ that gets the motor turning and then a lucky Sgt. sitting in the bird gets to stand on the brakes and run it up full throttle. Like it was a carrier take-off full-up throttle. That makes a fair amount of noise and we might be out there, you know, 2, 3 or 4 in the morning, maybe for a while ~ or even a repeat visit ~ until it was fixed. So some of the cranky bastards outside the gate had the ‘piss and moan’ line on speed dial and commence to calling. By the time it got tracked down to who was out there and commenced to calling those scalawags, it would be my Maintenance Control Officer answering the phone, catching all the sh$t.
    That was for real Mike, our first poster in the comments! See how small the Marine Corps is? Damn, I love it!
    And you, Kraut! How cool is that? So you got to live in Mission Viejo when it was fun. Canyons and little better than dirt roads, and Sand Canyon actually went through a Canyon? And Trabuco Road wound it’s way through to Trabuco Canyon (where the incident many years later took place ~ at Trabuco Oaks) And it was all orange groves and stinky chicken farms. Orange County Raceway was tucked on the opposite side of the interstate and the dragsters would be going all Friday and Saturday nights and most of Sunday. Then, the long red and gold Marine Corps Air Station El Toro ~ Home of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing sign on the fence facing I-5 was the first glimmer of civilization after Laguna Hills Mall. Nothing after that until the Red Hill exit.
    You are so lucky to have known it then. Magical freakin’ place. Those F-4’s ruled the roost! Stuff would shake off my barracks wall when I first got there, because the transient barracks was a rickety WWII vintage wooden building at the end of the runway. Single pane, six over six windows and every mullion had 2 drops of rotty caulk left. Rattle, rattle, rattle. Clapboard siding on the building frame with ‘cheap’rock to partition walls/rooms inside. Jeez, what a rambling wreck. And those Phantoms would about knock us out of the racks when they took off. Afterburners at night are like Roman candles ~ our very own planetarium show to go to sleep by if we could, cause DAMN!, they were LOUD. Testosterone with landing gear.

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