I don’t remember the exact dates, but I spent about four years stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. It was from the summer of 1988 to the summer of 1992.
My family was with me, of course. The base is next to Jacksonville on one side and next to Hubert on another. My family and I lived in a mobile home park in Hubert. I always thought North Carolina was the mobile home capital of America, but I was wrong. That distinction belonged to South Carolina.
Camp Lejeune itself didn’t bother me. I went to the rifle range (four times) at one of the satellite bases and to an advanced school at another. The battalion I was with was the first to go through the “Combat Transition Course” at the rifle range. I think I went through it every year but one.
The summers were always humid and the winters were always cold. I prefer the dry heat of the southwest or the coastal weather of southern California. I’m probably going to leave the Philippines someday because the tropical weather here doesn’t agree with me at all. Anyway…
We saw nothing more than snow flurries every winter except one while I was there. I believe Christmas of 1989 was a white Christmas, where it caught the government totally off-guard because of how rarely it happens. I remember driving through ruts in the snow to get food at a grocery store miles away. It wasn’t fun.
Three of the four deployments I took part in originated from Camp Lejeune, including the first gulf war in 1991.
I didn’t really have a choice when I moved my family into a mobile home. I didn’t have the money to move into one of the few apartment complexes in Jacksonville. I couldn’t afford to wait. It was a blessing in disguise because it was much quieter in Hubert.
My older son spent a year going to the nearest school, in Swansboro, North Carolina. My wife, Josie, seemed to like living in North Carolina. She could get fresh fish and crabs from many places along the coast without having to go very far. Me? I don’t like most fish and I detest crabs.
Josie liked getting out. I didn’t care for traveling because I usually did all the driving. I drove through cities I don’t remember the names of as well as all the way to Tom’s River, New Jersey and back. The children always fell asleep in the back of the car.
I drove from Phoenix, Arizona to Wilmington, North Carolina in 1988 and then the other way in 1992. It’s more than 2000 miles from point to point and I drove all but three hours each way.
I didn’t really see any racism unless you count what Josie said to me the first time we entered the Jacksonville mall. She said there must have been a fire there because a lot of people there were all burned up. She was talking about the disproportionate amount of Negros in the mall.
I had to teach Josie some United States history so she would understand the regional differences. I don’t know if she ever did understand, but I never heard any remarks like that again. She was a quick learner and she obtained her citizenship while I was stationed at Camp Lejeune.
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