The cut runs deep……

As some of you know, we live in Virginia Beach, Virginia. While it is a beautiful “play land” with ample beaches and tree-lined inland water ways, it is also a part of the largest military complex in the world. In fact, our house is just two miles from the home of Seal Team Six (of Bin Laden fame). If we walk west on our beach, in a half mile we come to a fenced-in “off limits” area which is their training beach.  It is part of the Little Creek Joint Expeditionary Base.  I often wonder when I see a buff jogger running past, if he is one of the heroes of the Bin Laden raid. In addition, Virginia Beach contains the Naval Amphibious Base,  Oceana Naval Air Station, Dam Neck Marine Annex, and Fort Story Army Base. In the next city over, Norfolk, you have the Norfolk Naval Base, largest on the East Coast, and the Norfolk Naval Air Station. A major Coast Guard station resides in Portsmouth, VA. Across the water from there is Fort Monroe and Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, VA,  Fort Eustis in Newport News and the Naval Weapons Depot in Yorktown. In total, there are in excess of 165,000 military personnel at these various locations. This doesn’t even account for the immense ship-building facility in Newport News.


As an interesting aside for my many readers in Great Britain, I’m sure you have noticed a lot of English names among these places. Of course, this is where the settlers first landed as they were establishing colonies. Jamestown and Williamsburg are also considered part of this Hampton Roads area. And as the world knows, Virginia itself was named for the first Queen Elizabeth, the “Virgin Queen.”

Anyway, without arguing over its merit, one can easily see how the current cuts in military expenditures being made by the government will deeply affect this area. Fortunately, in this geographical region of well over one million people, there are other economical interests, not the least of which is tourism, but there are few that wouldn’t be affected in some way by a reduction in military presence.

But I was never so starkly reminded of this as when I passed by the Norfolk Naval Base just the other day on my way to Hampton. Across the water I could see the superstructures of 5 Nimitz Class aircraft carriers. (See photo) That is half of the 10 carriers currently active in the U.S. Navy Fleet. Considering four of those ten are stationed on the West Coast, that is quite remarkable. I have lived in or visited this area frequently over the past 47 years. In fact, during my time in the navy in the mid-60’s, I was stationed on an aircraft carrier at this very site. I have never seen more than 3 carriers in port at any one time in that entire period. Usually, there is only one or two. I guess the good news is, there will be more sailors in port to spend money.


Well folks, that’s your history and geography lesson for today. They’ll be a quiz tomorrow so be sure to bookmark this post. Here’s an sample of one of the multiple choice questions:

Q: Al will no longer be blogging on WordPress because he:

a. Has been indefinitely detained by the U.S. Navy Shore Patrol for taking unauthorized pictures of a military facility.

b. Is being held and questioned by the FBI for posting military facts and locations which might be useful to the enemy.

c. Has been arrested by the Department of Homeland Security as a suspected member of a terrorist cell and is currently in Guantanamo.

d. Is being treated in a mental facility for an extreme case of nostalgia.

28 thoughts on “The cut runs deep……

  1. I live just 10 minutes from Pearl Harbor, and we all know what that place is famous for. I found your blog via Dianne’s blog and like it well enough to become a frequent visitor. Aloha from Hawaii.

    • Thanks for visiting Gigi. It’s been a while. We have a connection to Hawaii also. Besides visiting there a couple of times, my wife lived there 3 times (her dad was in the Navy). She lived on Ford Island right next to the Arizona Memorial. In fact, you might want to read my post “The other Magellan at . It gives a detailed accounting of her father’s exploits during the strike on Pearl Harbor. Have a great day!

  2. Great post on our area, Al. Yes, we do have a lot at stake if these budget cuts take place. Worrisome. I am so tired of these crises, one after the other and everyone in Congress blaming someone else. Good description of where we live, though.

  3. I’m not losing any sleep over the sequester. First, if these Congress folks let it happen, I will be surprised. The military industrial complex is spread throughout all Congressional districts. Second, defense spending is spread throughout the government. For example, the Dept. of Energy is a big area of military funding. All government agencies…well most, could be run more efficiently and cuts across the board might cause some serious budget work…for a change. Perhaps is is time to bring our troops home and close bases in other parts of the world? Just a thought. Dianne

    • To me, this is where the money should be spent. The government spends too much on stuff they have no business doing. But the Constitution is clear that one job of the government is to protect us from all enemies, foreign or domestic.

  4. I can’t comment too much on your area, because I’m unlikely to see it, but I share your problem with nostalgia, so possibly we shall meet in the mental facility, and share a few memories

    • Hi Barb. I think world events will answer that question in the not to distant future (i.e. North Korea and Iran). I’m sure we’ll suddenly find the funds to send them out.

    • Too late Patti. I’ve already told them about you.

      I was on an old WWII Essex class carrier, USS Randolph CVS-15. It was hit by a kamikaze during the war but survived. It was retired in 1969 and broken up for scrap in 1973. I’m currently using it to shave with.

  5. This takes me back to the early 60s when I was stationed at NAS Norfolk. I met and married my husband there and we always said that if the military left the Tidewater area there would be little left. Your blog today brought back a whole lot of memories. Thanks

    • Hi Rachel. Thanks for visiting. I also met my bride-to-be at the Officer’s Club on the Naval Base. We were married in Virginia Beach. We’ve come back here to roost after 45 years.

  6. I come from a small city that depended heavily on its air force base for years. Then military cuts hit and the base closed. We thought it was the end of the world. To a large extent, the area suffered and things aren’t the same, But it wasn’t the end. It’s a different place now–not better, not worse. Just different.

    When so many of your eggs are in one economic basket, you lay yourself open to being very vulnerable. Our area is not nearly as vulnerable as it was nearly 15 years ago. And I’d say that’s a good thing.

    So don’t despair too much, Al. Life is noting if it’s not change. Memories are comforting, but looking forward is a good thing, too.

    • Ah yes, remember it well…Plattsburgh. Been up their a few times in my youth…many, many years ago.

      I’m not too worried about this area actually, it will survive and will always have a strong presence, just not at the level it is now.

      • Obviously, I totally obscured the point of this blog, probably because so few of my blogs ever have a point! Basically, the fact that so many of these super carriers are in port is a reminder of how the military cuts will affect not only our local economy, but our ability for quick reaction to world crises. I love the military’s nickname for these behemoths, “93,000 tons of diplomacy!”

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