Under the radar: Life is low-tech at Army missile defense base in the Pacific
KWAJALEIN, Marshall Islands — Vernon Adcock sipped a beer at Kwajalein Island’s golf club on a recent afternoon. The avid golfer volunteers to maintain a modest, nine-hole course next to the airport runway, and the beer was a little reward for completing his chores.
Most people living on this speck of an Army base smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean develop some passion that substitutes for life in the “real” world, as they call it. For Adcock, that’s golf.
Compared with other U.S. military installations, Kwajalein is so small, so remote and so unusual that explaining life here invariably leads to a metaphor.
“They say that when you come to Kwajalein, you’ve got two buckets,” Adcock joked. The first bucket, he said, holds the pent-up frustrations of work and life on an island that’s only about two miles long and 800 yards wide. The second is for the money that can be saved on an island with few places to spend it.
“When one is full, it’s time for you to leave,” said Adcock, who works in air-traffic control. His first island stint was 1997-2005, and he has been here since returning in 2009.
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