The Brunswick/Glynco area is coastal Georgia and a one hour drive each from the nearest major airports in Jacksonville, Florida or Savannah, Georgia. There are two major islands that form part of the coast, St. Simons and Jekyll Islands. Interestingly, on the drive up, I noticed a series of "wear your seat belt" signs on the I-95 once I got into Georgia. Is it just me or doesn't this sign kind of look like a sort of Confederate Flag looking thing?
FLETC sits on the former Glynco Naval Air Station established in 1942, a base for the Navy fleet of airships, commonly known as blimps, which patrolled the coast for marauding German submarines during World War II. There are still the tell-tale boxy structures typical of bases throughout the world interspersed with much more modern wood and stucco buildings and some of those temporary classroom buildings you may recall from elementary school. The facility is in the midst of a mature forest of moss shrouded Live Oaks and beautifully tall Southern Pines. But there is a real campus feel to the place with large Holiday Inn like dorm buildings, a student union center, a bank and a convenience store. They sell beer and wine as well as mixed drinks at the bar at the Student Center. Yes...they even have a Starbucks. It's a college for big people who just happen to have guns.
What is revealing is the sheer number of Federal agencies that train here. In 1970, training was handed over to the Department of the Treasury with the mission to standardize law enforcement training throughout the Federal Government. All agencies would utilize the facilities in Washington, D.C. except the FBI. In 1975, Glynco was selected to be the permanent facility and after 9/11 was absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security. About 134 agencies use FLETC as primary and recurrent training for hundreds of Federal agents and visiting foreign students from all over. There is a several acre driving tactics track on the northern perimeter as well as at least 6 weapons ranges all over the facility. There is a full mock Port of Entry and town I passed on my way to my Dorm. Everywhere you go, you cross paths with folks with all sorts of different uniforms from US Marshals to TSA, FEMA, NCIS, IRS to the Hoover Dam Police.
As I mentioned, the place is huge. I got well into my run making well intentioned right turns in my grand plan to arc my way back to the dorm. Well...what seemed like a lot of time passed and now I realize I'm looking at stuff around me I no longer recognized. I zigged and zagged in a vain attempt to find something I recognized but to no avail. Finally, I could see one of the entrance gates in the distance so I made my way there. I was met by one of the security guards and, not wanting to appear lost (yeah, that wasn't obvious), asked to verify directions back to Dorm 185. The guard (clearly aware of my plight) stifled a laugh and did his best Swamp People accent with a "whewww...you way off course...(pointing off into the darkness) its wayyyyy over that a way....you got a long ways to go."
I toddled off (I would say "jogged" but that would imply I had some athletic ability) with a renewed sense of direction. My speed increased as I checked my watch to see it was now 6:30 as the darkness gave way to the rising sun. I finally rounded the curve and into the lobby of my dorm as Mickey's hands moved toward 7 am. My carefully laid plan now shattered as I desperately tried to cool off by cranking the room air conditioner down to the "meat locker" setting. Jumping into the shower, I dried off as best I could, dressed and with time ticking away, completely forgot to shave. With my clothes still sticking to me like wallpaper, I got to my car and drove, sans breakfast, to my classroom and still got there five minutes late. Of course, I was the only one late and one of the instructors turned out to be my US Marshal boss for my Federal Court District. Perfect.
|Classroom Building 216|
Spectacular as they were, it was both scary and humbling that a mistake on my part could cause some serious injury, death or at the minimum, substantial damage to the building I'm charged with protecting reinforced by lots of post explosion photos of suicide bomber incidents in the Middle East.
There was down time after class and many of us made our way to the surrounding towns to eat and drink. In class, I met up with another new CSO, Angela Blanchard working at the Federal Courthouse in Lafayette, Louisiana. Angela was, interestingly, the only female in our class and reinforced the fact our work doesn't seem to attract many women. Not that the Cafeteria (and it's never ending supply of free food) was inadequate, but we had to venture out to try the local fare. I had a rental car so we made our way to dinner on nearby St. Simons Island on two nights. St. Simons (as well as Jekyll Island) are outer bank islands about 20 minutes from FLETC. It is a very scenic place with tree lined roadways shrouded with hanging moss so typical of the south.
We tried a place called Mullet Bay . It was a great place and we decided to eat on the outside patio. Although it was a little warm and humid, it was quite pleasant with the evening breeze out of the east fanning us as we people-watched folks passing on Ocean Blvd. I had the Tilapia and an appetizer of Jalapeno poppers. Angela had the Calamari as an entree and fried green beans (way good).
After passing our written test and preparing to leave the next morning, the last night we returned and took in the Blue Water Cafe. A second floor dining room gave a wonderful view of the bay overlooking the pier. I had the meat loaf and Angela had the Fish Tacos. Margaritas all around. Terrific food and service.
|Memorial to Fallen Federal Officers|