News From The Associated Press - Pentagon Plans to Close 33 Major bases
Whoa. 33 bases. One of the bases on the block is Cannon AFB, in Clovis, New Mexico. That's where I served my years in the Air Force. First the Defense Department closed Lowry AFB in Denver in 1994, and now they're closing Cannon. It's like they're trying to shut down everywhere I've been. Okay, I know it's not that personal, but I do have good memories of both of those bases, enough to balance out all the boredom, frustration, and other bad memories. The local economy in Clovis is going to be hit extremely hard by this, and I could easily see Clovis lose half of its population and tax base because of this. There are about 5000 people at CAFB, and the children go to Clovis schools. Right there is a huge loss to their public education system. I don't think that just farming and feed lots will manage to keep Clovis up and running. I also think about a lot of my old hangouts in Clovis: Kelly's Bar, the Clovis City Limits, Northfield Mall, the China Star Restaurant (where I had dinner every Sunday night) and Pegasus Loft (the game store/aikido dojo). They'll lose a lot of money from this. It's a shame to the base go. I hope that the federal government will figure out some way of using the land to continue generating revenue for the city.
I also see that Illinois could be hit with the loss of a base, perhaps Springfield's 183rd Fighter Wing. That would be especially heartbreaking to me. Dad would take me out to the base when he was in the Air National Guard and let me see the planes. One of my earliest memories is of Dad in his old green fatigues with the brightly-colored unit patches of the 183rd Tactical Fighter Group and Tactical Air Command as he sat me in the cockpit of an F-4C. I remember seeing all the dials, buttons, and indicators and knew that I wanted to play with them, see how they worked, what they did. I apparently sounded like I was panicking according to Dad, but I loved sitting in that seat thinking I was a fighter pilot. Even at 3, I figured I would spend some time in the military.
It looks less and less like Springfield will lose its Air Guard unit, but the thought of losing those places definitely brings back a lot of good memories. Except when I was stuck doing all the CAMS data entry for my shop. That sucked. I miss Cannon for the most part, though.