Commander looks back on accomplishments (1990)
The Marine in Col. Mack Luckie has resolved to make the most of his new assignment in Washington, D.C., but the civilian heart in him wishes he could stay right here in Yuma.
"I want to remember everything about Yuma, because it's been the highlight of my career and my personal life," said Luckie, commander of Yuma's Marine Corps Air Station.
He and his family are "not happy, at all" to be leaving, he said in a recent interview.
Luckie took command of MCAS in May 1988 and now departs to take over as branch chief of the Strategic Arms and Space Initiative Branch under the Plans, Policies and Operations Division in Washington, D.C.
During the two years Luckie has been here, the post has grown and undergone the transition from a training base to one that now hosts combat-ready tactical fighting units, and from flying A-4 Skyhawks and F-4 Phantoms to the AV-8B Harriers.
The base has also succeeded beyond his expectations in its mission of providing support for the fleet Marine forces, he said.
It has gone from being the fourth busiest Marine base to the third busiest, in terms of takeoffs, landings and overflights, he said.
"We're doing it better and we're doing it with less," Luckie said.
One of Luckie's goals when he came here was to improve the quality of life for the Marines and their families stationed in Yuma.
Consequently, there have been improvements made in the barracks and the exchange, and the club system is now operational and profitable, he said. The base also boasts a family service center and a youth center, he said.
The thing he said he's most proud of, however, is "the collective accomplishments of the entire command. They've worked as one entire team with little slippage."
As for regrets, Luckie said he has none.
Luckie said he expects his new position will pose some interesting challenges and opportunities but, "I'm not excited about going to Washington, no."
"I'm not really excited about being a paper pusher," he said.
Luckie also spoke freely on a number of issues that will affect both the community and the base in the future.
He predicted MCAS would weather any cuts in the defense budget.
"I would like to put (the community) at rest concerning the base closures. MCAS is not on any base closure list and is not planned to be placed on any closure list."
In fact, he said, Yumans may see the role of the base expand in the future because as other bases close, units will be disbanded or relocated to bases still open. With Yuma's excellent flying weather, it's a good place to send more aviation squadrons.
The planned force reductions may affect MCAS personnel on the station side of the base, which consists of the maintenance and support units, he said, but predicted those cuts would be short-lived -- four to five years.
On the negative side, Luckie had some dire prophesies as to what further encroachment upon the base would do to the community.
"The ever-increasing encroachment really concerns me. Not only from the military viewpoint, but from the civilian one."
If the encroachment is not controlled by city and county zoning regulations, "you are going to hurt the economic development of the community," he said.
Not only could it affect base operations, but if private developers see they can't get planes in and out of the airport, they are are going to look elsewhere, he said.
As for his own future, Luckie plans to leave Sunday and visit relatives in Texas before reporting to his new duty station August 1.
And someday, Luckie said, he will return. Upon retirement, he plans to come back to Yuma, where he has already purchased some property.
Col. R.M. Luckie was commanding officer of MCAS Yuma from May 4, 1988 to July 13, 1990. Luckie moved back to Yuma and is currently executive director of Yuma Metropolitan Planning Organization (YMPO).