Arrival at Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma

Due to crew rest, showtime in Phoenix was 12:30 (Mountain Standard Time). My aircraft would lead the company of eight Black Hawks to our home for the next few months, Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma.

The trip was short and before I knew it we were calling Yuma tower for landing and taxi instructions. Being the lead aircraft, we did not get to see what the company formation looked like as we landed, but as my aircraft made the left turn to taxi to parking we could see the remaining seven aircraft all hovering at ten feet off of the ground, a pretty cool sight.

We quickly dismounted and removed all of the baggage from the aircraft as we reunited with some members of the unit who hadn't flown out with us and had instead traveled from from New Jersey on Nov. 10 in a fixed wing aircraft before we started our cross country flight. With their four days of experience, the early arrivals began to recite the rules and regulations of the base.

Once the aircraft were offloaded, we strolled over to the dining facility. We were all shocked at what nice food the Marine Corps had to offer compared to what we'd had to eat at Army chow halls. There were two serving lines to choose from and each dish of food listed the number of calories and grams of fat per serving. They even had an ice cream bar that took requests for different types of ice cream and toppings. There was no limit on the amount of food you could have.

After dinner chow, we went down the street to claim our room keys. As we walked, we noticed the nice weather for 19:30. The locals mentioned that it probably won't rain for weeks at a time. This should make for lots of flight training.

By Bert Stover |  December 12, 2005; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Enroute to Yuma, AZ , Ft. Dix Mobilization , Preparation for Departure
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I'm retired AF officer now working for the army in civil service. I've enjoyed your blog. Some of the comments have been really funny as they don't understand "shit happens." Please keep it up so that more people will understand the day-to-day military life.

Posted by: Debbie | December 12, 2005 09:08 AM

Of cource USMC food (assuming one is not under field conditions) is better than the Army's. It's provided (along with many other logisitical services) by the Navy. And the Navy likes to live and eat well. My son flies MH-60s for the Navy and recently had the mirror image experience of living with the Army while 're-deployed' to Pakistan for earthquake relief -- he was glad to to get back to his 'comfy Navy digs' at his orginal Middle-East deployment location.

Posted by: Retired AF Lt Col | December 12, 2005 10:46 AM

I'm a retired Navy JAGC CAPT now working Navy civil service. For the first time in many years, probably since Vietnam, the public seems to understand the important difference between supporting the administration's policies and supporting the troops. First person accounts such as yours help tremendously. Travel safe.

Posted by: Retired Navy JAGC CAPT | December 12, 2005 10:58 AM

While in the Air Force during WW2 I was stationed at Yuma which was a Gunnery school for Bomber Crews. Gene Raymond and Donald Budge also spent time there. It was a great base witha b ig ,clean outdoor pool.

Posted by: JULIUS ECKSTEIN | December 12, 2005 12:14 PM

While in the Air Force during WW2 I was stationed at Yuma which was a Gunnery school for Bomber Crews. Gene Raymond and Donald Budge also spent time there. It was a great base witha b ig ,clean outdoor pool.

Posted by: JULIUS ECKSTEIN | December 12, 2005 12:15 PM

I find it comical the Marines have better food as the Army and Marine Cooks both train at Ft. Lee together.

Posted by: SPC Williams | December 12, 2005 02:06 PM

The Corps has really changed. I deployed to Yuma several times in the 50's. No permanent squadrons were stationed there then. There wasn't much to do in town in those days. So, as all godd Marines would, they would cross the border. Some would get drunk and we would have to go and bail em out.
By the way. I don't remeber the chow being even good in those days. The cooks, who were stationed there, didn't have the best attitude towards us who would come there on maneuvers, etc.
Anyway, I really am enjoying your blog. Keep it up.
Semper Fi

Posted by: SSgt Bill USMC | December 12, 2005 03:27 PM

In late '67 my Marine unit (1/1) was providing security for the Quang Tri Airbase. One morning I was literally thrown out of my rack by a tremendous explosion. I ran outside to find out what was going aon and found that a battery of Army 175's had moved in the night before and we were on the gun target line. That was the bad news.

The good news was that the battery had already set up a hot chow line and were willing to share with we bedraggled Marine infantrymen who had not had a hot meal in months.

I too find it amazing that Army pesonnel would find Marine food better than their own.

Enjoy your blog...keep up the good work.

Posted by: Mike | December 12, 2005 06:04 PM

Regarding the "El Paso to Phoenix" leg of the flight: Demming is in New Mexico, not Arizona.

Posted by: Al Covell | December 13, 2005 11:20 AM

I was a Marine air traffic controller stationed at Marine Yuma in the 60's. Having previously served at Okinawa, I was thrilled with the accomodations at Yuma. It had been an Air Force base and we had rooms to live in, not a squad bay. Of course, the first thing we Marines tried was to tear down the walls and make squad bays anyway. Because the buildings would fall down, that idea was abandoned. Instead, the room doors were removed. I did not spend much time at the chow hall, instead visiting El Charro-the best mexican food anywhere. They are still there, and owned by the same family all these years, but relocated to 8th Street. My son and I visit Yuma at least yearly for El Charro and golf.

Semper Fi

Former Sgt.Richard Cox

Posted by: Richard Cox | December 13, 2005 11:24 AM

Yuma, Arizona. As Marine aviation mechanic stationed on the East Coast for bulk of my 8 year career, I would hate to have to deploy to Yuma to support pilots in WTI (Weapons and Tactics Instruction). For the Marine Corp pilots, fixed wing and rotary, it was their "Top Gun" school. For the mechanics, it was all out hell. We had to support, flight operations 24 hours a day without the usual contigent of maintainers. Luckily, as an inspector, I worked in an air-conditioned (rather, "swamp-coolered" or chilled air) environment. I also had the benefit of networking with several Marines who I had been deployed with to other places that ere permanently stationed there. Even in light of my fortunate circumstances, Yuma SUCKED!!! Country-Western/Hip Hop clubs!!?? No shopping malls. Vast desert to the east, Vast desert to the West. Alas, I eventually discovered Mexico. Not the dirty and filthy Tijuana version of Mexico, but rather Algodones. In Algodones, there was sports betting, restuarants, and tourist shopping less than 15 minutes from Yuma. We would go (against our commands orders of course) to Mexico at noon, place our bets for the weekend games, have lunch return to work within 40 minutes or so. Also, on Sunday afternoon, we would dry-out (after a long night of drinking from the previous night) in Algodones. My friends and our girlfriends would meet at this restuarant and just sit out on the pation while eating and listening to live music. Of course we were totally dry, but at least it was a slower and laid back pace. We found it amazing that it only cost about $5-$10/per person to eat and drink ALL DAY!!! Those were my fondest memories of Yuma. On a sadder note, later in my career I was part of the unit responsible for testing the V-22 Osprey in Yuma. We lost 19 Marines in a crash in 2000. Please be safe with all your training, and try to have some fun as well. Good Bless. Our prayers are always with the troops.

Posted by: Former Sgt. Todd Winters | December 13, 2005 01:40 PM

Yuma sounds like heaven after taking Basic at Wichita Fall TX.

Posted by: Bill Parker | December 14, 2005 12:01 PM

I spent a two week summer camp at Yuma during my marine reserve hitch in early 70s. Remember the heat (August) air-conditioned, two to a room, barracks and pretty good food. Also remember going to Winterhaven CA as their bars were open later, than in Arizona and St Luis Mexico border town. good luck and God bless for a safe return.

Posted by: Cpl. Larry | December 14, 2005 12:24 PM

I have enjoyed reading your blog as an info starved parent of a Harrier Squadron Marine at Yuma currently deployed to Iwakuni Japan. Thanks and godspeed.

Posted by: Patsy Martin | December 14, 2005 01:02 PM

Bert thanks for your blog. It lets people know just a tiny bit of what you guys do. The training that you all will be receiving and have received will be what helps to bring all of you home safely. I'm so proud of my husband Mr. Hill and all of you men and women for what you are doing, for what you are sacrificing, and for the freedom that you help to give all of us. I'm also very proud of all the military men and women in all of our branches of service and to all the veterans who have served. It is a deep honor to be amoung you.
Stay safe and come home. We love all of you.

Posted by: Barb | December 14, 2005 04:47 PM

I drove my brother in his little Fiat convertible to duty at Yuma after he returned from VietNam and he enjoyed the dry heat and hot food. I had little appreciation for the place, being a civilain.
Know that y'all are real well prayed for on a daily basis, and Merry Christmas

Posted by: maureen | December 14, 2005 05:48 PM

After three years during WW II and Iwo Jima plus Okinawa I can't help but feel sorry for you poor abused people who serve today at fantastic wages and high tech existance.

Posted by: Freefall Hall | December 15, 2005 01:31 PM

Bert,we don't know each other but I am enjoying your blog. Say high to some of the old timers for Brewster (retired Dawg 21 ),also...who's acft.

Posted by: Bruce | December 15, 2005 06:40 PM

To correct the statement by the retired USAF Lt Col "Of cource USMC food (assuming one is not under field conditions) is better than the Army's. It's provided (along with many other logisitical services) by the Navy." The Navy does NOT provide food service to the Marine Corps. On shore installations they provide chaplain and medical services. The Navy provides messing to Marines when they are embarked aboard ship.

Posted by: Retired Gunny | December 19, 2005 03:47 PM

The divide between journalism (read: baby boomers who skipped VNam, & their children) and the military (aka: how the other half lives) is again made plain by the error introduced into the lead of WO Stover's account. There does not exist at this time, nor has there ever, a Marine Air Corps Station Yuma.

The shame of this flub is compounded by the fact that it appeared in The Post, whose homeport--as it were--is Washington, DC, home of the Pentagon, DOD, et al.

Makes you wonder how well the paper of record in our nation's capital can handle the war stories needing to be told if its copy editors can't even get past names and titles of the people, places and units to be covered.

Posted by: Ex-Jarhead and Journalist | December 20, 2005 08:19 AM

re ex-Jarhead: fascintating, I just went to the official US Marine Corps website for Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma (see title of blog). I guess they are part of the other half, too. Or were you trying to make a political point out of a typo?

Posted by: curious | December 20, 2005 11:37 AM

Thanks to the retired Gunny for correcting the USAF LtCol re: Navy providing Marines food service ashore. I've served on an Air Force base and known some fine Officers and NCO's. Many, however, have a lot of misconseptions about the Corps. I've had some interesting conversations straightening things out.

Posted by: Retired Mustang Capt | December 21, 2005 12:18 AM

re Ex-Jarhead - washingtonpost.com does not have copy editors for BLOGS. This is a first hand account of one of our own web developers who is in the Army reserve. These are his accounts of what he sees and does. There is no "editorial" control over what Stover posts to his Blog.

It amazes me when people put this guy down. A year a go Bert was devolping for the website and now he's been thrust into the front lines. Our editorial team asked him to post what he sees, does, and his thoughts. Bert doesn't have to do this - he's doing it out of kindness and to help everyone at home have an understanding. He 's no journalist - take it for what it is- a web devolper/army reservist posting his thoughts for a newspaper blog.

Get back safe my friend!! Merry Christmas!!

Posted by: Co-worker of Berts | December 21, 2005 09:49 AM

Re:"The shame of this flub is compounded by the fact that it appeared in The Post, whose homeport--as it were--is Washington, DC, home of the Pentagon, DOD, et al."

Last I checked the Pentagon was in Virginia, not DC. If you're going to correct someone's geography, check your own too.

Posted by: pilot's brother | December 22, 2005 11:52 AM

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