Twenty-five years ago today, Hurricane Andrew ran across southern Florida like a buzzsaw through a two by four. With a central pressure the fourth lowest ever recorded and winds of 150 mph, the category five storm took away twenty-six souls and caused $26M in damage. North of Miami, Homestead Air Force Base was obliterated.
My memories of Andrew as it happened are none. As part of a special assignment, I was attached to the American Embassy in Tunis. These were the days before the Internet. I probably read something about the damage in the International-Herald Tribune.
On my mind in August 1992 was my next assignment. In September I sat down to fill out my “dream sheet.” This is the form where enlisted folks write down seven bases they hope to go to. Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii must have been a popular choice. Of course, your chances of landing there were slim to none.
The Air Force had improved the assignment process a few years earlier by publishing a monthly computer printout called EQUAL (Enlisted Quarterly Assignments List).
It showed where there were needs for your rank and job speciality. I wanted to go to a base with a warm climate. The Air Force had several bases in Florida. Surf and sun. Sounded good to me.
Looking at the listing, however, I couldn’t find any openings east of the Mississippi. In an unprecedented move, the Air Force had told those serving at Homestead to go wherever they needed to go.
I forget what my seven choices were, but I ended up getting assigned to Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix. Luke was a three to four day drive away from my folks and friends back east.
But I got my wish for a warm climate.
And, of course, no worries about hurricanes...