It’s amazing how little time I spent at the places I wanted to be and so much time at the places I didn’t. Like Camp Lejeune, I spent four years at a duty station that wasn’t supposed to be longer than three.
The only good thing about being stationed in Phoenix is that it allowed me to settle down with my family. My family remained there when I was transferred to my last duty station.
The city is part of the larger Phoenix metropolitan area. Driving to and from work was a royal pain until the government widened both of the interstate highways (I-10 and I-17). I believe the 101 and 202 loops already existed, but they were on the other side of the valley.
I rented a three bedroom apartment to begin with. My parents-in-law joined us about a year later. Then, about another year later, I bought a 4-bedroom, 3-bath house in a cul-de-sac. It was part of large subdivision. Even though the house was a few miles west of the apartment, it was still in the same city..
There were two nearby (relatively speaking) Air Force bases, one south of Chandler and one west of Phoenix. Mesa annexed the area formerly occupied by Williams Air Force Base after the Clinton-era base closures shut it down. The Air Force transferred its assets to Luke Air Force Base.
We did most of our grocery shopping at the Luke Air Force Base commissary. For other things, we shopped at places closer to us. The base was about 15 miles west of us, but that wasn’t an issue. Getting in and out of the base, even though it was on the military dependent side, was another royal pain. It got even worse after the 911 ordeal.
Before I joined the Marine Corps, I lived in Coolidge, Arizona. It’s a small city 60-70 miles south of Phoenix, depending on the route to get there.
When I was stationed there, it was at 7th Street and Van Buren. That’s not where it was when I joined and it’s not where it is today.
While I was stationed in Phoenix, the recruiting station was part of the 12th Marine Corps District, based first at Treasure Island next to San Francisco, California and then at MCRD San Diego. Now it’s part of the 8th Marine Corps District, based at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth.
I wasn’t a recruiter, which is called a “B” billet. I was working in my military occupational specialty (0193), an “A” billet. The recruiters looked down their noses at “A” billet personnel, expecting us to fawn all over them. Is it surprising that I didn’t like working there?
For three of the four years, I worked alone in my area of the recruiting station. It was too much work for one person because of all the automation being put into place. The Marine Corps decided to bring in two more people for the last year, after everything was already ironed out and I no longer needed the help.
I was transferred to the base in Barstow in 1996 for my last tour in the Marine Corps. That tour was only two years when it should have been three.
By: RT Cunningham
February 27, 2017
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