San Diego Soliloquies

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Supporting the Troops

A CH-53E Helicopter went down in Iraq, killing 30 Marines and 1 sailor.

These 30 Marines were from Camp Pendleton here in San Diego, and the CH-53E Super Stallion was based two ridgelines over from me, at MCAS Miramar. Miramar was originally a Navy facility, built out in the boonies beyond San Diego before World War 2 as a base for the Navy's dirigibles, which means that it's right in the middle of modern San Diego, with Highway 15 to the East, 52 to the south, and 805 to the west. The Navy flew jets in and out of Miramar, servicing the Pacific fleet and training combat pilots in the Naval Fighter Weapons school, "Top Gun". In the mid-90's though the Navy decided it was easier and cheaper to support the fleet out of Lemoore NAS, and to move the Fighter Weapons School to Fallon.

The Marines have always had their own air assets, and until the re-alignment, ran fixed wind operations out of MCAS El Toro and helicopters out of MCAS Tustin. Since the Navy was moving out of Miramar, it made sense for the Marines to take it over. The base is closer to Pendleton and easier to access.

Expensive housing resides to the west and east, with windows all too eager to shiver in sympathetic vibration to the blades of a helicopter overhead. Sometimes every thing in the house shakes as the conditions in the atmosphere align to transmit the shock waves of blade tips exceeding the sound barrier into the walls of the homes below. Ever since the Marines announced they were moving there have been protests at the noise created by their presence. The Marines agreed to fly circuitous routes to minimize the noise. The most vehement protests were organized in what are now the "reddest" sections of San Diego county.

I don't care if the damn thing shatters my coffee mugs. I wish every one of those marines was back here in San Diego, running training missions and rattling the windows of the shabby MacMansions lining the I-15 corridor. We're losing this war, which was never worth the blood spilled from a paper cut much less the lives, misery and treasure we have spent to now. These men and women are far too good to be wasted in this way, being put in an untenable position that's maintained solely through their sacrifice. Bring them home and let the dishonor fall on the shoulders of us, the civilians who were too weak and confused to use such magnificent troops correctly.

Update The Marine infantry on board the CH-53E were from the Marine Corps base at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. The flight crew was based at Miramar.

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San Diego Soliloquies