BARSTOW, Calif. - This isn’t a science lesson but let me start by saying time is relative. Nearly four years in any place to a young adult can seem like a long time. In reality, most places you’ve been have been there longer than you and there’s a good chance it’ll be there when you leave as well. And four years is like a kid brother to something that’s 70.
When I was assigned to Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, I thought I’d do my time and move on to another duty station. Keeping a young Marine in his prime in California’s High Desert for nearly 1,500 days wasn’t what I had in mind. Three and a half years later, my mindset has changed entirely.
First and foremost, I am proud to be a Barstow Marine. We have things the rest of the Marine Corps may never get the chance to see.
The Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard is the only one of its kind. When I talk to Marines in my job field from other bases or show them photos I’ve taken for our base publication, they tell me how cool it is or how jealous they are. I play it off as nothing of a big deal, but in actuality, the minute I’m done talking to them, I get this giant smirk on my face and an overwhelming sense of pride takes over. Several Marine Corps color guards mounted on horseback have come and gone over the years but the original one, established at MCLB Barstow in 1967, is the only one to stand the test of time.
We have the largest single-story building in the Marine Corps as well. Production Plant Barstow, Marine Depot Maintenance Command, formerly known as Maintenance Center Barstow, is 440,000 square feet and everything about it lives up to its size as well, from the number of people employed there, to the vehicles and machines they repair. It has more than 300 product lines dedicated to repairing and overhauling all ground equipment used by the Marine Corps, a feat unparalleled.
Since 2009, I’ve had time to meet a large number of people on this base. Working in public affairs, it’s almost a requirement. I like knowing people by face and name. So when I’m on my way to the exchange and someone who I haven’t seen or spoken to in a while stops me and strikes up a conversation, it makes me feel good about myself. It gives me a sense of belonging in the MCLB community. I’m not sure if other service members get the same feeling because they’ve experienced more than MCLB Barstow, but I consider myself lucky to feel like I belong here. The members of this community have become like family for me just as Barstow has become a home away from home. I used to hate calling it a home. Now, I gladly embrace it.
The base community resembles the one I grew up with in Patton, Pa. Barstow is much smaller than other bases so it’s like an "everyone knows everyone" situation. But I think it works out because the employees use it to their advantage.
It’s like being able to say, “Hey, I have a guy over in the payroll office. They can help you out,” or “You could ask the lady the base safety office. She’s an expert on that kind of stuff.”
My four years here are a drop in the bucket compared to the other 66 the base has existed. It has however, been more than enough time for me to see a lot. I was able to experience barracks life in both, ones erected in 1956 and the Pettit Hall bachelor enlisted quarters constructed in 2010.
I was here for the base’s push for more green energy with the construction of a solar farm as well. It makes me think; if I’ve seen this much in only four years, what about those who’ve put in nearly 20, 30, even 40 years here?
I understand the amount of personnel on this base used to be quite sizable, but for having the number we do now, I’d say we’re still doing an excellent job of supporting the Marine Corps and the individual warfighter.
We may not have a movie theater like they did here in the ‘80s, enlisted and officer clubs, or hobby shops that were a fixture here since the base’s inception, but it’s still home to U.S. Marines without these places.
Despite its remote location, MCLB Barstow is still born and bred to support the U.S. in times of war, just as it’s always been. The Marine Corps inherited the base when it was turned over by the Navy in 1942. The land was purchased from its original owner, a sheepherder’s wife with the stipulation of having perpetual care given to her husband’s gravesite on base.
December 28, 2012 will mark the base’s 70th anniversary. Everything sees changes throughout time, especially in the span of 70 years. This is a certainty. But after all these years, the base is just as strong as it’s ever been. It’s like a Scotch whisky; it gets better with age. Happy Anniversary MCLB Barstow. Here’s to many more.