By Debbie Gregory.
One thing holds true above all others in the military: You can choose your branch, but you can’t choose your duty station.
There are two kinds of duty stations: those that come ready-made and those you “make the most of.” After taking into consideration weather, morale, base amenities, stuff to do, and accessibility to major cities, it seems that some of our military’s most heroic acts of service might not be fighting battles abroad, but bravely conquering the duty stations at home.
Duty assignments are a crapshoot, and here are the losing rolls:
Army: Fort Polk, Louisiana- Most blame the misery on the humidity, the presence of every bug you can think of, or the fact that chain gangs are not at all uncommon in this swampy, far-from-everything town. The nearest towns are more than an hour away, and the nearest place you would actually want to go to is New Orleans, about a four hour drive. It is hot in the summer and cold in the winter, and the humidity!
Fort Bragg, or “Fort Drag” as it is commonly referred to, also scores low on the list. Soldiers insist that the place reminds them of every combat zone the U.S. has visited in the past four decades.
Navy: NAS Lemoore, CA- The Navy thinks that Lemoore is a “hidden gem” with an image problem. But when everyone, including civilian residents refer to it as an “armpit” and the biggest selling point is Fresno, CA… an it is regularly ranked among the nation’s worst for air pollution.
Air Force: Cannon AFB, NM- Giant insects. Cow dung. Old houses. Locals who loathe the military. Above national average crime problem. Gang issues. Drug traffic from Mexico. Keep going? I though not.
Minot AFB, ND- The missile base is located in a desolate region of the least-populated, most-rural, least-visited state in America, with winter temperatures in the low teens. And cows outnumber people three to one.
Marine Corps: Twentynine Palms, CA- Marines call ‘The Stumps’ the place for the best training and arguably the worst social life. Not that bad if you like being in the middle of a vast desert. If you like dirt bikes or atv’s you’ll love it there. But you either freeze or boil. Life improves if you have a car and can travel to Joshua Tree, Big Bear or San Diego.
Coast Guard: By most accounts, the Coast Guard doesn’t seem to have a bad duty station.