J. David Rogers'
Military Service
Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory

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 the island.

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.

Questions or comments on this page?
E-mail Dr. J David Rogers at rogersda@mst.edu.