Best of times, Worst of times (and why)

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by Bullet, Mar 23, 2009.

  1. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    OK, time to kick off a new thread. For all of you who have either served, followed a loved one, was a military brat, whatever: what was your FAVORITE 3 places to live / visit, what were your WORST places? And Why?

    My Favorites:

    1) Alaska. LOVED being stationed there (Elmendorf AFB, right next to Anchorage). Probably the best three years in my career. If you love outdoor activity, you can't beat the summers there. and the winters were pretty awesome too! Met some of my best friends there as well, fishing and camping buddies for life!

    2) TDY to Germany, in the early fall = Ocktoberfest! Need I say more? Walked through a carnival to a HUUUUUGE Brauhaus, saw the Oxen roasting on a spit, an Oompah band on a stage, and servers with pitchers of some of the best tasting beer I've ever had! Me, teary eyed and smiling dumbly: "I'll take some of that, and some of that, and some of that." Me, three hours later, standing on top of my table, smiling even more dumbly, arms around my buds swaying to the Oompah music, and screaming some German beer drinking song I learned an hour ago at the top of my lungs: "Ein Frozen, Ein Frozen... Da, Da, Dum!!!!" :thumb: Me, the next morning, "Did somebody get the name of that gorilla that beat me up and took all my money?" :wink:

    3) Oxfordshire, England (RAF Upper Heyford). Loved the time there, so much to see, so much to do. The castles, the golf trip to St. Andrews, the fish and chips in an old newspaper, the potato pubs, the warm beer. Ah, memories! And the best part of living at this foreign country? They spoke English! (At least I thought they did, their accents made it hard to understand :biggrin:)

    The Not-so-favorites:

    1) Kwang Ju, Korea. 120 day deployment from h-e-double hockey sticks. :thumbdown: The placed SMELLED :eek: (In the immortal words of Robert Duvall: "That smell! That someone-left-the-toilet-unflushed smell! Smells like.......Korea") The flying even stunk, except for that funny time near the DMZ ("Yankee-Air-Pirate! You turn south now, or be fired upon!"). Stuck on the base for the first two months because Kwang Ju is the home of all the Korean Universities with all the Anti-US protests. (Me: "Excuse me, which way to the shops?" Some Punk teen-age Korean kid: "Die, Imperialist pig! US Out Now!" Me: "Down that alley? Ok, thanks!" :rolleyes:) When you can actually say with enthusiasm, "Hey, we get to go to Kunsan AB this weekend!", you know you are living a nightmare!

    2) Baghdad, Iraq. 5 months "in country" Why a non-favorite? Obvious reasons. My own private tour in Apocalypse Now...

    3) Incirlik, Turkey. Three separate deployments. Nice enough base, some cool flying, and some great deals on brass and Persian rugs. But step 10 feet off the boulevard of shops next to the main gate, and the theme from "Midnight Express" starts running through your thoughts. ("You're supposed to go Right around the pole, not left! Left is bad!" Kids, ask your folks about that quote...)

    OK, all those out there; Spill your beans. What are your favorites and Non-Favorites?
     
  2. jbrown

    jbrown Member

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    I was in and out of most places I went to, and never really got to visit the local life that much, with a few exceptions.

    I was based out of Pendleton for most of my time in the Corps, also out of 29 Palms for a while.

    My favorite was NAS Alameda for obvious reasons, it's an island in the SF Bay. I went there from Pendleton, and went to Pendleton from there. When I got out, I settled back in the Bay Area.

    I didn't care for 29 Palms much, it's a desert, what can I say. But, I did meet my wife there. She was a Corpsman and she treated an injury I had. About 1 1/2 years later we were married.

    I liked Okinawa (Camp Hansen), but mainly because Kandena wasn't far away, and they had a pretty nice base. Hansen sucked, wasn't much to do outside of training. But at Kadena, there was good food, a movie theatre and a nice PX.

    Pendleton was cool because we were so close to San Diego (my brother was on a sub based there, then later a company commander at NTC).

    I absolutely hated Korea. Camp Muchuk. Showers were in a tent, with no heating and it was Korea, in other words cold, very cold. I still can't stand the cold after that. But, the bath houses in Seole were cool. For just a few bucks you get a bath, a massage, your boots spit shined and your camies cleaned and pressed. I once spent 38 days in the field with no shower and cold dry shaves... sure appreciated the bath houses after that.

    I liked alot of other places also, but I would say NAS Alameda and NAB Coronado were my two favorites.

    And I loved it when we were on ship. Great food, good rest, plenty of down time to get ready for what was coming.

    JB
     
  3. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    My favorite places to visit while working...


    1. Souda Bay, Greece - outstanding clubs, great food, interesting mix of people

    2. Portland, Maine - nice size city, great for walking the streets, and lobster is plentiful. Lots of history in the area.

    3. Rota, Spain - nice small streets, great times there too

    4. Nassau, Bahamas - Two words, Paradise Island. Atlantis is great. I met up with a couple of girls and a guy down there who invited me to hang out in the lazy river with them at Atlantis, hung out in all day, good time, especially in a patrol that involved a good deal of migrant ops. Once we left, we also have a SAR case for a guy who jumped overboard from a cruise ship.

    5. Wilmington, NC - great city....perfect size

    6. St. Pete, FL - Pro sports in the city.

    7. Key West, FL - good for one or two port calls in a patrol before it got expensive and old...too many investigations from bad sailors to always be fun.


    8. GTMO, Cuba - An enjoyable portcall, maybe ONCE in a patrol. I spent Christmas here, 100 degrees and all. We were able to have a pretty fun Christmas party and a nice gift exchange.


    Now, I haven't covered ALL of the port calls. I love NYC and Boston. I like Kittery, ME/Portsmouth, NH. I'm not a huge fan of Port Angeles, WA, but I had a great time in San Diego, CA. I've been to Haiti, Germany, and Great Britain too, with work, and those places will triple in the next few years.

    In the Coast Guard, with U.S. ports, you will find some ports friendly to Coasties and some that are not. Generally, we stay away from the Squids, trouble can start when the sailors mix.

    My favorite place to be stationed, based just on where I am, is Washington, DC. I'm a city guy and I enjoy all there is to do in the NCR.
     
  4. jbrown

    jbrown Member

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    For you AF guys, I know I spelled Kadena wrong, I just realized it as I was reading LITS post.
     
  5. packermatt7

    packermatt7 USAFA Cadet

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    Why the heck did I choose Air Force? You salt-dogs get all the warm, tropical bases :thumb:
     
  6. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    I'll just list most of them. At least the ones I cared anything about. Highest to lowest. Some of these were PCS (Permanent Change of Station); some were TDY (Temporary Duty); and some were visiting while at these other places.

    1. CNA/Soesterberg AB, Netherlands - And I loved those F15's
    2. Taura AB, Ecuador - I went because I speak Spanish. Spanish is different there
    3. Estaca De Bares, Spain - In the Basque country on the Atlantic Ocean
    4. Torrejon AB, Spain - My last permanent overseas assignment
    5. Entire Germany TDY adventure - Bitburg, Rhein-Main, Ramstein, etc...
    6. Entire England TDY adventure - Weathersfield, Lake, Milde, etc...
    7. Howard AB, Panama - Nice weather. LOL!!!
    8. Bergstrom AFB, Texas - The most neutral 4 years of my life. But I went TDY alot
    9. F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming - Retired from there; went back to sandbox; etc...
    10. Kirtland AFB, New Mexico - Met my wife there. Worked R&D Sandia Laboratories
    11. Keesler AFB, MS - What can I say; BILOXI Mississippi. It's close to New Orleans
    12. The Sandbox; Saudi, Kuwait, UAE, Oman, etc... - However; Bahrain was OK
    12. McConnell AFB, Kansas - Yes, I considered it lower than the desert getting shot at

    These were just the ones I spent any significant time at. There were a lot of short temporary places in Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico, California, Honduras, etc... that I spent TDY time and whatever. But it was short. There's also visiting places that I did also while in many of these places like; Scotland, Belgium, Greece, Luxembourg, Columbia, Mexico, Newfoundland, etc... but most of those were vacations and visits.

    Remember; I am the eternal optimist. The glass is never half full or empty. It's just the right amount. They just happened to have the wrong glass. I make the most out of wherever I am. So I will say that I like some places MORE than others; but I won't say that I like a place LESS than another.
     
  7. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Ha, I like the area. The duty isn't bad. I have season tickets to the Capitals and partial package to the Nationals.


    Remember, if you're seeing those tropical spots, it's probably because you're been dealing with angry, disgruntled Cubans, Haitians and Dominicans. Those interdictions happen at ALL hours.
     
  8. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I was at Lakenheath and Mildenhal not too long ago for work....I REALLY like that area, just wish I could have been there longer.
     
  9. jbrown

    jbrown Member

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    With only a few exceptions, I was always part of a rotating Battalion. So my wife and daughter were not able to travel with me.

    I would say that's what I hated the most.

    My wife was a corpsman, but exited the service not long after we were married. I think it was within the first 2 years if I remember correctly.

    When I was single I loved it. I would have a permanent duty station, such as Camp Margarita, on Pendleton, but would deploy for 6 - 9 months, at a time, then be back for about the same sometimes a little longer, then deploy again. And the cycle repeats, and repeats. Not so good once I was married. I often considered other MOS's that allowed the whole family to stay together. But it all worked out.

    Of all units, I would say my favorite was when I was with Lima 3/5. Battalion Commander was good (hard core but good), duty was good, deployments were good, unit was very well respected.

    It was not unusual for the Battalion CO to start the day with a 9 - 12 mile run, with boots and camies and the run would start with a sprint up the mountain behind Margarita. TPG, you probably knew him. His name was Col Packard. I don't recall the first name. Man was in his late 40's to early 50's and could outrun any Marine in the Battalion.

    JB
     
  10. KPMum2012

    KPMum2012 Parent

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    What a fantastic topic!

    Looking back, it is amazing to me how few places I can honestly put in a "Worst List." Most places have at least one fond memory or thing that I miss.
    - That said, the one place that tops my Hate List is Fort Bliss, TX. It was a miserable tour for us. It didn't help that within 2 months of our arrival, some idiot in Iraq decided to invade Kuwait. Still, we jointly decided we would never live in that city again. Another part of the problem is that it was "too close to the flagpole." It was HQ for my husband's branch, so the internal politics was intense. From my perspective, I absolutely hate it when wives "wear their husband's rank!" Every spousal activity had a touch of politics to it. Yuck!

    - Athens, Greece. Yes, it sounds like a great assignment. But it was very hard for a new Army wife who was very young (and naive/immature) at the time. We had no phone - it was a 5 year wait to get one installed! It is a very chauvinistic society. Plus, we were there during the height of the November 17th terrorist surge. We arrived just after a car bombing of the military hotel and left around the time of the assassination of the Naval Attache. Scary. All the jobs were taken by local nationals, who then got PX and Commissary privileges and then emptied the shelves as soon as a new shipment arrived. Forget retirees stocking up on Pampers. These folks filled shopping carts with every last banana in the store! PX was in a quonset hut. We later moved to Kaiserslautern, Germany (Little America) and I stood in the two-story PX listening in wonderment as folks complained there was no Walmart! But that year in Greece was good in the end because I learned to be responsible for my own happiness and to make the best of where I am. And I still miss that little neighborhood taverna with the best grilled chicken and the barrels of Cretan rose on a shelf just under the ceiling. I don't miss the upstairs neighbors throwing their garbage out the window into the vacant lot next door!:eek:

    I can't think of any other negatives. Kaiserslautern was my least favorite German base, largely because we were insulated from the German community in a large housing area. In Heidelberg our building was right in the neighborhood. We could walk to the local bakery and restaurants and easily catch a tram into the city center. All in all, our multiple tours in Germany were big positives.

    Our exchange tour in Ottawa was fantastic! We hated to leave there. DH worked at the Canadian National Defense HQ. That was the closest he ever came to a Pentagon assignment. You either learn to embrace winter there or you go stir crazy. The kids learned to ski, both downhill and cross country, skate, do curling and snow shoe. And you can't match the experience of encountering a moose on your morning run through the neighborhood park!

    We've loved our time here in Brussels. It's hard to believe we've been here nearly 7 years! My husband enjoyed his job on the International Military Staff at NATO. He extended and then retired into another job at NATO so our kids could finish high school here. We live in a wonderful neighborhood. The travel opportunities are great! And the American community here is the most tight-knit I think we've seen. It is like 1950's small town America. Of course, that comes complete with the gossip, etc. But we've loved it here. Did I mention the travel opportunities?:biggrin: Plus the lifestyle is more relaxed than in many places in the US. Folks either seem to love it here, or be counting the days until they get to leave.

    As has been said in other threads, each place is what you make of it. There is always something good. It's up to you to find it. And you'll always have great stories to tell.
     
  11. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Bullet told me he started this thread and I immediately said so Kwang Ju must have been on the worst list.

    For me I am with LITS I love the DC area (jersey girl).

    Alaska was number 1, but DC is def. number 2. The Puzzle Palace is not for everybody, but you can't have a better station than here. Not only do you have professional sports, but great restaurants, malls galore, and free entertainment whenever you want it. So as a spouse what more could you ask for?
     
  12. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Every place has its "charm", maybe more accurately, you will have stories from every place you visit/are stationed. The further down the timeline you get from the "bad" events, the better they look.
     
  13. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Very true LITS...I couldn't wait to leave Mt. Home, but now I look back at the great things about the place.
     
  14. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    I agree that as time goes by, places look better. However; McConnell AFB, Wichita Kansas will never look good. But there is no doubt that Holland was our favorite assignment. It's been 25 years, but it was great. Especially the people. The older people remembered the "Americans" in WWII and what we did for them. And they taught their children. It was not uncommon, while I was there, for Dutch civilians to know what our (American) holidays were. Many would stand at the main gate on our holidays and hand us Roses/Flowers as we went in the gate. If you went to a bar and the locals found out you were an American, you couldn't buy a drink. Everyone else bought yours for you. beautiful country and great people.
     
  15. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I remember living in the UK and they would come to base and go trick or treating with the Americans (the brits don't celebrate halloween)

    The funniest thing I remember about the UK, you would see signs in front of a pub that would say DOGS WELCOME, CHILDREN NOT!
     
  16. flyersboy114

    flyersboy114 USAFA Cadet

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    BOOO! GO FLYERS! :thumb:
     
  17. flyersboy114

    flyersboy114 USAFA Cadet

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    I love DC, but only because of the history, the museums, and the monuments.


    I'm more of a SOUTH Jersey guy, I mean SOUTH SOUTH Jersey guy :thumb:
     
  18. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I can definately understand that. I sure it doesn't look any better today.
     
  19. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I need your captain, Mike Richards to put up some big points over the next three weeks for my fantasy team.
     
  20. flyersboy114

    flyersboy114 USAFA Cadet

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    Haha dont worry he will, but you should have picked Carter, scored his 40th goal last night.

    Richards is a good pick though I think hes around 30 and some nice assists. We have about 5 easy games left, 3 decently tough games, and 2 hard games so expect some points.

    I'm pretty confident about making it past the first round so I see no problems there :thumb:
     

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