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Advice for Visiting Military Bases

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Ohio Scouter, I agree that Wright-Patterson is large and a cool place to visit, but I don't think it's the largest AFB.


Davis-Monthan in Tucson has 17 square miles, Vandenburg in California is about 82 square miles, Edwards is around 475 square miles, and Eglin in Florida takes the prize at over 700 square miles.



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We camped at Wright-Pat AFB last year and toured the museum. Boys enjoyed it, but I'm told the actual area available for camping was pretty cramped, with several other troops in attendance. However, it was a worthwhile trip. We also visited (but didn't camp at) the US Naval Academy. Now THAT was a trip that impressed the socks off the boys, to the point where we have a couple of older boys expressing interest in possibly attending.

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Given the research facilies, I'd agree with you that they're probably #1 on employment. Vandenburg, Edwards, and Eglin have lots of space, but are lightly staffed relative to their size.


W/P is also the largest collection of historical yet unairworthy aircraft east of the Mississippi. D/M has that distinction for west of the Mississippi.


The camping areas at most of the western AFB's is nothing to write home about either... Biggest complaint is the lack of shade, but trees and aircraft don't usually mix very well!

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Sergeants Major are the most senior non-commissioned officers in the Army and Marines. The Navy calls them "Master Chief Petty Officers" and the Air Force calls them "Chief Master Sergeants". They are the keeper of the collective wisdom for our Services; they are the ones who develop our Private Soldiers, Sergeants and Petty Officers.


A good officer learns, before he gets his butter bars, that you always listen to a Sergeant Major.


Command Sergeants Major are the 2d most experienced person in most units, next only to the Commanding Officer.


When the installation/Garrison command sergeant major decides you are due a butt chewing, HFE is right... principal's office x 10. It's usually liberally laced with cusswords and is ALWAYS delivered with the recipient at a modified position of attention!


EDIT: In the Army, do not make the mistake of calling a Sergeant "Sir." It may be the last mistake you ever make ... ;)(This message has been edited by John-in-KC)

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Thanks for bumping this John. When I was an SPL, our SM was a Lt. Colonel, I think, and we camped at the ANGB bivouac site. At night we played capture the flag, and found some great holes to hide in. The SM pointed out the next day those "holes" were actually the latrine pits!

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My Troop stayed at the Great Lakes Naval Base in northern Illinois several years ago. One of my ASMs was an instructor on base and handled all the arrangements. I don't remember all the procedures for getting approval to camp there, but I do remember it being very detailed.


We camped in the gymnasium (along with several other units) in the winter. We used their pool to work on some swimming requirements, toured the museum on base, toured the classrooms, shot simulated guns (including simulated ship-mounted machine guns), went to the base bowling alley, caught a movie at the base movie theatre and took in Sunday church service at the base church.


The military folk were very accomodating and were great role models for my Scouts. I look forward to doing it again.


One word of advice...the United States Military is NOT flexible, so be on time and obey the rules.

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I grew up in the shadows of Wright-Patterson AFB (in Xenia). I recall one council (I think, it sure seemed larger than our regular district camporees) camporee that was situated in the center of one of the inactive runway areas (although I can't recall Area A, B or C, I think it was the one adjacent to the museum). Of course, as a kid, I made multiple trips to the museum (and one about 8 months ago) and recall how the collection diminished somewhat when the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum was opened in D.C., circa '76. The AF Museum at WPAFB has been remarkably built-up since then, into the huge and fantastic museum it is today.


My troop made a few stops at military bases over the years. One bus trip to Philmont and back overnighted at Fort Reilly, KS (the notable part there was that while in the mess hall, we uniformed scouts seemed to gather quite a crowd, one of whom cautioned us "boys, stay as far away from those green uniforms as you can!").


On a trip to the Maine National High Adventure Area, we overnighted at Griffiss AFB in Rome, NY in an A-frame structure that I think had been set aside for a troop on the base. About 8 years later, I spent a summer on Griffiss, working on a research project while I was in grad school. I got to know the base, and the area quite well. Only remnants of the base remain today.


My troop also did an annual "indoor" event during February. For a few years in a row, we would drive from Xenia to Columbus and visit the science museum (COSI). We would overnight in the VAQ at Rickenbacker AFB.


Looking back, I'm sure one of the reasons why we did those things was because of the frugal nature of the trips our troop. But it was also very generous of these various bases to allow scout visitors like they did. It's nice to see that it still happens occasionally.


Side note: our troop recently attended a large scout event on Cape Cod called MassJam (roughly 7K attendees, I've heard). The location was very near to Otis AFB, and we had our share of military visitors, including recruiters, some communications people demoing equipment, and I think quite a few others staffing a field hospital and a temporary mess setup to feed staff.



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