Aerial view of the Naval Air Station on Diego Garcia under construction
around 1980. It is part of the Chagos Archipelago, administered by the
British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). Note the MSC ships parked
in the lagoon, at upper left. Situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean,
this base serves as our gateway to the US CENTCOM (Persian Gulf) ops
area. We always referred to Diego Garcia as “Dodge”; as in 'Dodge
City' of the Wild Wild West. I don't know who started that, but it sure stuck.
Main runway approach at Diego Garcia. The U.S. Navy Support facility
here was built in 1977, but not enlarged significantly until the Shah of Iran abdicated his throne in January 1979. During the previous
130 years it had been nothing but English coconut plantations. During the first Gulf War (1991) the Air Force based their venerable B-52s here and they had personnel stuffed into every crevice of the few BEQs and BOQs on the base.
Between 1979-86 the island’s military facilities were greatly
expanded to provide a base of operations for contingencies in the Middle
East, including Military Sealift Command ships with equipment for our
Rapid Deployment Force. This shows the “structures”
side of the island, west of the runway. When jogging I always
found myself competing with thousands of red land crabs that inhabit
Base headquarters at Diego Garcia. The base was constructed by
the Seabees in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Arriving female
sailors lasted an average of 6 weeks before they are either engaged
or married. Everyone got around in Chevy S-10s or Ford Courier pick-ups, like the
one pictured here. We rode in the beds on wood slat seats without seat belts. We couldn't get away with this at any other US base on the planet.
The O Club at Dodge was filled with well-greased Maritime Sealift Command
(MSC) officers whose hermetically-sealed transports were anchored in
the island’s scenic lagoon. The ships holds were filled
with equipment for our Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) in the Middle East,
which eventually formed an integral part of all subsequent operations in the Middle East, especially Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2001.
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