MCAS Yuma: initial observations

After two years in Bahrain and three years on Inspector & Instructor duty, it had been a while since I had actually been on a Marine base. We arrived at the air station one night after a number of swashbuckling adventures driving across the US. When we pulled up to the gate, I engaged the Marine on post about where things were. He dutifully punctuated his every sentence with “Sergeant Major.” “Yes, SgtMaj. You’ll take the first left and it’ll be on your right SgtMaj. SgtMaj, SgtMaj, SgtMaj.” As we pulled away my wife remarked: “I forgot your first name was Sergeant Major. Don’t expect that crap at home.”

The temperature has been steadily climbing into the triple digits since we arrived and the yearly annual rainfall is currently at half and inch. Additionally, the UV rating has topped out at 11. This means you can develop skin cancer by simply glancing out a window. Despite this the flag condition usually remains green. Yay!

Life in the Air Wing is somewhat culturally different than the infantry side. I can tell I’m on an air station because I saw a SSgt enter the base barber shop I was at and leave with the exact same haircut he walked in with. Hippie.

Fellow Marines are no doubt familiar with the term “swinging with the Wing,” but I’ll admit all I’ve seen so far are young Marines killing themselves 24 hours a day to get planes in the sky. Despite the infantryman’s propensity to regard all other Marines as pogues, nothing gives a grunt more confidence on patrol than looking up and seeing Marine aircraft overhead. I’ve also never heard anyone bad mouth pilots while missiles were screaming up the tail pipes of insurgent bongo trucks.

Semper Fidelis!

America’s SgtMaj

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    5 comments

    1. I had the opportunity to get back on Marine turf recently for the first time in years. As a former Gunny turned Navy officer, I needed to take a promotion picture and had to go to MARFORRES at Federal City in New Orleans. From the moment I drove on, I felt a tingling sensation I once knew from years ago. Young Marines rendering sharp salutes punctuated by loud and prompt greetings, well-worn pull-up bars near the front door, and eye-to-eye contact from Marines walking through the building (as opposed to clearly obvious look-aways). I thoroughly enjoyed getting “the smell” back on me, even if it was only for a little while.

      My wife and I were once driving back on base after being on an extended leave period while I was in the Corps. As we drove through the front gate, she looked at me and asked, “Do you realize you just breathed a sigh of relief?” I hadn’t even realized I’d done it, but after considering it, I replied, “It’s just good to be home.” I remembered that feeling the other day while getting my picture, and it was a welcomed memory.

      Semper Fi, Sergeant Major

    2. Regarding your haircut comment, sounds like nothing has changed since I got out in’71. However, we got a SgtMaj, to go with the Master Gunny we already had when I was with VMFA-251. The Master Gunny typically gave all us our haircut before each inspection with everyone passing until the SgtMaj arrived. We all had to go back to have more hair removed. Funny now, not then.

      1. LT, I think it’s funny your wife noticed you breathing a sigh of relief. There is something about being back among your own tribe. I encourage you to demand some of the same military courtesies you see the Marines display from your own Sailors. The “look aways” always rub me the wrong way too.

        Good luck on the promotion board!

        Blaine, if SgtsMaj don’t make some kind of uniform correction at least once a day, they get struck by a bolt of lighting.

    3. Oops, sorry Mike, I was insensitive. Suggest flying lessons at Yuma to your honey. I think you have great potential as a co-pilot.

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