The Sun News recently requested thoughts, memories and photographs from those who had been stationed at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base prior to its closing in March 1993. Here are some of the responses:
I arrived at the base in January during a snow storm and all I thought was: I moved 2000 miles from Colorado to another state with snow? I was a little freaked out. Don Urban was one of my first supervisors and we served together for about two or three years. We were in Falcon Section (355th Tactical Fighter Squad) and both had the best job in the Air Force, crew chief of the A-10. At the time, the A-10 was the newest aircraft in the Air Force so I was again excited to be at the forefront of history.
Because our unit had brand new aircraft and had just started working with the Army for ground support, I got to travel a lot. As an 18-year-old kid, this was the best part the Air Force offered me and really the only thing I thought about except the influx of girls when the summer season of Myrtle Beach started. We traveled to Germany, Spain, Bermuda, Canada and all over the U.S. training and learning to use what would become the greatest ground support aircraft ever developed.
One of my better stories to my family and friends is how we used to go see Alabama at the bar down on the beach [The Bowery] and went to Halloween parties they played at the Holiday Inn Surfside Beach. They never believe that one.
I was an aircraft crew chief (mechanic). I worked in Transient Alert. That is the shop that takes care of all the visiting aircraft that fly into the base that do not belong to the wing/base. We were always busy. Myrtle Beach was a favorite RON (remain over night) destination for pilots in all the services. I worked four days on, two days off -- mostly on afternoon shift. This gave me plenty of time to spend out around the area and on the beach. I would get up and go to the beach and lay in the sun till it was time to work. When I got off work, it was time to go out and have fun.
The city night life was awesome. We mainly hung out at Mother Fletcher’s for the cheap draft beer at happy hour -- it was a real hopping place, lots of tourists. I also remember going to the Bowery to listen to a group called Wild Country (they are better known as Alabama now). There was a small amusement park down by the beach near the boardwalk, and a water slide. A buddy of mine spent the day at the water slide and the concrete just tore our feet up. Sure was hard putting the combat boots on to work the next day. My favorite hangout became the Gaslight tavern.
I got to spend three wonderful years there at the entry to my adult life. I cherish the memories. I still have friends that I met when I was stationed there. But, alas, all good things must end. The Air Force sent me to Kunsan [Republic of Korea]. I think it was punishment for living the good life on the Grand Strand. After Korea I was transferred to the Virginia Beach area. It does not hold a candle to “The Beach”
As for our off-duty time after work, we would visit some of the local establishments -- the Hoppin Hutch Lounge and the Miscue Lounge to shoot pool and check out the local girls. When things were real boring we would cruise “Winks,” the local hang-out where they had curb service. They would actually serve beer to your car.
Winters were slow but during the summers we would go to the beach and cruise the boulevard and check out the amusement parks. I met my wife, Lisa, here in 1975. I worked with her dad out in the maintenance complex. I received orders to England in June of 1975. She came over there and we were married. We were very fortunate and we received orders back to the “The Beach” as it was known to most.
In 1977, we ushered in the A-10A and a new era was started. Here we stayed and raised our two children, Chris and Kim, in base housing. We went to church at the base chapel and did all the normal things a family at the beach would do. Other than me being on the road on temporary duty all the time the family had a pretty stable life. They never left. I went to Korea on a remote tour in 1982 for 13 months but came right back to “The Beach”. We bought a home outside of Conway in 1987 and have been there since.
When we found out the base was closing you could have knocked us over with a feather. This was home to us. I had six different permanent changes of stations in my 22 years in the Air Force and I was either coming to Myrtle Beach or leaving Myrtle Beach. The only other stateside assignment I had was at Pope Air Force Base in Fayetteville, N.C., and that was when Myrtle Beach shut down. But I had that sand in my shoes and I couldn’t shake it. So the family stayed here and I commuted to and from North Carolina on the weekends until I decided to retire in 1993, and we have been here since.
I have many fond memories of the base and what it used to be. Many things have changed but the memories will always remain. I sure do miss the old days, though.
There were so many places I spent time at while stationed at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, I couldn’t begin to mention them all. I was always treated with the utmost respect by just about everyone I met. I believe that the base was part of the tourist attraction of Myrtle Beach. The tourists seemed to show a lot of interest in our base. I drove the bus for many, many base tours and it was always packed.
The base itself was unlike any other in the fact that it felt like a small town. It was common for the base commander or wing commander to stop and carry on a conversation while walking through base housing. I never saw that at any other base I was stationed. Even to this day, I cannot drive through what once was Myrtle Beach Air Force Base without a lump forming in my throat and tears forming in my eyes. It was truly one of a kind.