5/25 BRAC letters to the editor

Many airmen have fond memories of Cannon
In regard to the letter written by Floyd Shumpert of Dallas and his experiences as a young airman at Cannon Air Base:

I can only relate that my time here as a “base ape” was entirely the opposite. Almost from the first day I arrived at CAFB I found new friends both in the military and in the community. Sure, there were families that did not knowingly allow their daughters to date airmen, a few people who were out to obtain monetary gain from our meager salaries and the very rare occurrence of outright hostility but overwhelmingly we had wonderful experiences and made lifelong memories and friends.

Some of us stayed, some of us moved away and then returned and some went on to other places and made their lives elsewhere. But we all kept a place in our hearts for the people and places of Clovis, Portales, Fort Sumner, Melrose and New Mexico.

Blue skies and genuine smiles kept us here and drew us back. Old-fashioned respect and patriotism make us proud to wear the uniform. Families made us complete. Old soldiers still salute the flag and teach their grandchildren to respect the warriors who pay the price of freedom. At the Clovis High School graduation last week, one of the young speakers asked the veterans to stand and the crowd paid its respect with a grand round of applause.

Sometimes airmen are reluctant to come to CAFB, but most leave with regret.

More than once a new friend in today’s Air Force has told me, “I almost cried when I got orders to come to Cannon, but I really wept when it was time to leave.”

For me, Clovis without Cannon and the Air Force without Clovis are hard to imagine. As a community we will survive and thrive if the Base Realignment and Closure Commission’s decision goes against us, but the roar of a fighter jet is still the ultimate sound of freedom and I, for one, hope the roar continues around this area for generations to come.

Dick Smith
Curry County Manager

Closure savings can’t be accurate
As a former chairman of the Curry County Commission, I have fought for Cannon Air Force Base by helping to acquire air easements in hopes of ensuring the base staying in our area. I am certainly interested in the base’s survival.

What about this big savings the Department of Defense claims will result in closing Cannon? The $2.7 billion it claims to save over the years can’t be accurate because:

1. You still have to relocate to another base all the military personal, so there are still costs of salaries that shift the economy elsewhere. They will not retire or release these military people, so I don’t see savings there.

2. The military still has to offer at least one relocation job to civilians: There again, you still have the same salaries in place. No savings there.

3. The planes have to be relocated and the operational costs of flying them is the same whether here or there. You will still have flight-line crews, pilots, fuel, maintenance, repairs and training costs.

4. What about moving and relocating costs for 4,000 personnel and home-buying costs to uproot these military families?

In my opinion, the water and electricity don’t add up to such great savings.

Plus, what about the loss of facilities and housing that are intact on the base and housing outside the base in Clovis and Portales? Do they just let it grow up in weeds or does the military maintain the facilities and at what cost to the government? Do they throw the burden back on the community to maintain?

I believe that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has deviated substantially from closing criteria and has not taken these facts into consideration.

Paul D. Barnes
Pleasant Hill

New fighters reason to keep Cannon open
I retired here from the base 25 years ago. I would like to add my support for the base.

In all the good comments in favor of the base, I have not heard this: The Air force is coming out soon with a new fighter, the F-22 Raptor, and also a joint fighter aircraft. According to the Air Force magazine, they propose 300 aircraft.

I’m just an old guy trying to figure out why the politicians in Washington cannot see this. Surely they will need a base to put some of these planes, even after phasing out the F-16.
Cannon already has won all the awards possible in the Air Force. Is the Pentagon aware of this?

I cannot imagine that when this Base Realignment and Closure Commission visits the base, and sees all these new buildings, that it will let this base be abandoned to the tumbleweeds.

Let’s aim high and keep fighting.

Gerald R. Albert
Clovis