EL CENTRO — The Naval Air Facility in El Centro is home to several enlisted and retired military members. NAF El Centro is open to the public two days of the year — for the annual Blue Angels Air Show and the annual Christmas Parade. So, what is life like for the residents on the private, secluded base?
According to Kristopher Haugh, NAF El Centro Public Affairs Officer, the base residents live in a micro-city, with access to several different facilities to maintain and enhance their lifestyle.
Base residents have access to a Navy Exchange and Commissary for their convenient store and grocery needs. They also have access to fitness centers, swimming pools, restaurants, parks, a bar, a church, a mail center, doctors, a water treatment plant, and several other facilities.
The Children and Youth Program (CYP) is a small daycare center with a teen program. The auto-hobby shop is like a mechanics shop and includes an area for car washing.
With their own security, police, and fire departments, NAF El Centro does not rely on the County's emergency response teams to resolve emergencies on the base. This allows for a quicker response time. The security of keeping services in-house allows the gate security not to worry about security breaches from possible outside agencies.
“While our sailors are working, they shouldn’t have to be worried about their family’s safety and security. If you’re distracted at work, you’re not performing to the best of your ability,” said Haugh.
According to Haugh, physical fitness is an important part of enlistment and it’s a good way to blow off steam and relax.
At NAF El Centro, residents have access to basketball courts, racquetball courts, soccer and baseball fields, a track, a fully equipped indoor gym, a smaller family gym, and two swimming pools. This allows residents and approved visitors to stay fit for their day-to-day operations and expectations.
Recreationally, base residents have access to a skate park, splash pad, movie theater, go-kart track, family parks, bowling center, coffee shop and more. The Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) is dedicated to making sure members and their families can enjoy fun, quality time together.
“Our sailors and their families have a high-level quality of life here,” said Haugh.
Short of a school, base residents have everything they need within the walls of their base community. Base residents need not go into town, unless they choose. According to Haugh, this has several benefits.
“It’s great to be on base. Our sailors don’t have to drive all the way to town unless they want to. It’s nice to live in a place where you have everything you need,” said Haugh.