MilBrats from Little Creek NAB

MilBrats from Little Creek NAB Some of the best years of my life were living in D-21 MOQ's on Little Creek Amphibious base 1971 to

Found some old photos from a giant snowstorm in 1974. I’m not sure that Norfolk usually sees that amount of snow ever!Th...
12/29/2023

Found some old photos from a giant snowstorm in 1974. I’m not sure that Norfolk usually sees that amount of snow ever!
Then, of course, a photo of my sister as Princess Leia from Star Wars and my best friend Billy Schachte as a Jawa 

07/03/2023

Now this rocks!! A pet ribeye!
Semper Fi Taco

How many people had dinner here at Billy’s pizza house right down from gate Five? The Officers beach is closed down now ...
07/22/2021

How many people had dinner here at Billy’s pizza house right down from gate Five? The Officers beach is closed down now but this was the view from the beach with the bridge in the background.

The old warehouses across the bus stop in the old Housing is gone now replaced with homes.
Semper Fi Mitchell

John and Mary Bell, D-21 yard of the month club!!
06/11/2021

John and Mary Bell, D-21 yard of the month club!!

In the early 70’s my Mom, Mary Bell, painted this oil painting of Bradford lake behind the small Junior officer housing....
05/05/2021

In the early 70’s my Mom, Mary Bell, painted this oil painting of Bradford lake behind the small Junior officer housing. She did such a fantastic job and I love it. I think Boy Scout island is in the background.
Semper Fi Mitchell

For those of us who enjoyed the protective bubble of Little Creek Amphibious base as kids, I wanted to share the experie...
03/28/2021

For those of us who enjoyed the protective bubble of Little Creek Amphibious base as kids, I wanted to share the experience I had this past weekend. In the mid 1970’s, the Navy was hurting for money and decided to stop all PCS’s for one year to save money. This meant that most of our dads either stayed in their job or moved to another job on the same base. A very bizarre thing to happen in the MilBrat world of moving every three years and so we grew up together...1st grade through 7th grade in most cases.
Little Creek was that special place where we were free to roam on our bikes all over the base without fear of kidnappings or drugs. It was a simple life where you had to have a bike and once you hit the age of ten and had your dependant ID, we were able access everything on base.
Over the years, I still remain friends with many of our “gang” that we hung around with. Although for the most part, we all grew up with a great appreciation of our lives there.
For those who read my words, I hope it floods back some memories and if you have time, post some old photos and stories.
I took my folks with me on a trip to NAB which is now the JEB (Joint Expeditionary Base) but still as beautiful as it was back in the day. In their late 70’s and early 80’s, my parents did a great job instilling in us independence and self reliance. We met two couples across the street from our house, Elizabeth /Matt and Ruthie/Heath. From our conversations, it’s the same with them and their kids.
Our friends were solid and the parents knew everyone in our neighborhood. 37 homes in all! Now, people are lucky to know the names of the folks to their left and right. In those days, when we move into a new place, Mom would dress us up and walk the neighborhood. Knocking on the doors and introducing our family. That is how you networked and found out who had kids to play with, where to shop, places to eat, ins and outs of the hood the school etc. It’s a tradition I have carried on everywhere I have moved to over the years and to this day out of 153 homes in my neighborhood in Texas, I know at least 70 of them by name. (A lost art)
Ok, here are some thoughts on my visit and comparisons from past to present.
Hermitage Elementary has really grown. The old baseball fields are now extensions of the school. It has really expanded and you wouldn’t recognize it at all. When you turn left and drive on Pleasure house road towards the base, D and J Skating rink is now some sort of Events place. The old hardware store across the street in that little strip mall is gone. Our favorite pizza place “billy’s” is gone, it had the little quarter jukebox’s on the table and pizza was out of this world.
Driving to the base, it looks like that enlisted housing is still the same just upgraded. The Gate 5 sign is gone and upon entering the base, if you turned right, the little outdoor shop building is there but closed up. The memories of buying model tanks and planes there, GI Joes, matchbox cars, Star Wars costumes, fishing lures/pool, camping supplies. All great memories.
As you continue down that road, on the left they tore down the commissary and added a new one along with a new PX Exchange. The Navy Lodge across the street is gone, just an empty grassy lot. The old BOQ is still there though. All the new Officer’s housing behind the BOQ has been transitioned to the new style of houses with a garage. The Quonset and wooden “B” huts behind the commissary are gone and that is where the new Navy Lodge is located.
As we draw near into Bradford cove, the giant warehouse and the rows of large Garages along with the park and the small garages are all gone. It’s all houses now. The busstop is gone. They built nice two story homes with a two car garage next door, really well done. No steam pipes providing heat in the winter and they have AC!!
The lake looks exactly the same. The lone tree down in the middle of the cove where all the turtles would sun themselves is still there. The lilypads are popping up throughout the cove and seem to cover a larger area then I remember. The old dock behind the Christensen’s house is still there. The other one is gone although I saw the steps leading down to it where we would send our jet rocket powered boats off to zip across the cove. The woods where we played army has a giant chain link fence with no gate but a large tree fell down across the fence and this allows the local kids to climb over. The local kids still play tag in there.
The white bridge is still there, the canal as murky as ever. The “Spook Hall” is gone except for a few of the wings that were converted into single family homes. They built a giant house blocking the “Green” bridge so now there is a cut pathway through the woods to get to that bridge. They have painted it red now. It leads to what is now the SEAL park. The giant merry go round is long gone, a bygone era of broken arms and twisted ankles from getting tossed off of that speeding G force machine. The docks where we rented canoes and paddle boats are gone, just some extra fishing spots.
The Officers pool has been converted into a base slide water park, really nice too! The O’Club across the street is gone, replaced with a parking lot. They closed access to the O’beach and the SEALs now use that as their training area. Sad to think of all the days we would spend at the beach or the restricted rifle range collecting bullets and brass to sell to the local kids as “real bullets” from the base.
The old PX or Exchange that we spent many hours roaming around in, playing with the new demo Atari game set or checking out the new LP’s and 45’s or torturing the store detectives is gone. The building is still there but it’s a furniture store/uniform shop and a Subway. The Barber shop is still there and I think some of the same guys are still cutting hair!! The Enlisted pool is filled in a storage lot, the flower shop is a dry cleaners. The mini mart across the street is a parking lot and the 31 flavors baskin robbins is now a Wendy’s. The McDonalds is gone. The old baseball fields are mostly gone. The old park near those little league fields is still there where we did Boy Scout pinewood derby’s. The movie theater is still there and show free old classics on the weekends for the kids to watch.
Behind the theater, the obstacle course is there, updated but fenced off. After all the stuff we did as 10 year olds on that course, that might be a good thing. Still made me smile as a 2ndLt running that course, only 12 years later but getting paid to do it as an adult.
Boone clinic is still there although it looks bigger. The old steam pipes are active and still run to that side of the base. Not sure what they use the steam for but I remember sitting on them as kids in the winter to stay warm and walking on them. The old bridge over the train tracks are there and memories flooded back of my fear of wrecking on that bridge. The base museum with the helicopters and tanks are all gone. It’s a USO hut now. The pipes are still there 200 feet from the end of the runway at Norfolk airport where Billy Schachte and I would dream about flying for the airlines. Billy ended up flying in 1st Class and I sit up front in the Cockpit. I’d say we reached our dreams.
Sorry for the long post, I just had to put some words to paper as I thought about our trip. The highlight of the trip was getting together with Noelle and Sandi Salapak for dinner in Va. Beach. So many stories came out that night, a welcome relief to when times were simple as pre teen children. Summers filled with weekends camping or playing four square, bloody murder, army in the woods and riding your ten speed all over the base.
If you read this, have lived this life, please add come photos and comments, I would love to hear them!!
Semper Fi
Mitchell “Taco” Bell
D-21 MOQ NAB 1971-78

A view of NAB today from about 3 thousand feet.
11/05/2020

A view of NAB today from about 3 thousand feet.

08/18/2020
Years ago in 1987, I drove down to Little Creek Amphibious base to see my old home.  It was almost a decade since I had ...
08/18/2020

Years ago in 1987, I drove down to Little Creek Amphibious base to see my old home. It was almost a decade since I had last been there and I wanted to see the magical place we called home next to lake Bradford. The residents of D-21 were gracious enough to let me in and visit my old home. Today I tracked down Will Hogan who was only 16 months at the time and he got me in touch with his mother Elaine Hogan.

We had a great time talking about the old neighborhood and the massive changes that had taken place over the years since she and the family left.

It brought back fantastic memories and I look forward to flying out this fall with my son and show him where his dad grew up.
Semper Fi,
Mitchell Bell
D-21 NAB LittleCreek '71-'78

Ps some repeats but also the MOQ newspaper that was published by one of the ladies there

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Little Creek Naval Amphibous Base
Norfolk, VA

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