Memories of Gitmo

 

I see that Deputy Editorial Page Editor Juan Vasquez was at the camps in Guantánamo. I lived at the Naval Station for seven years, where I taught at W.T. Sampson High School, a Department of Defense Overseas School.

When I first went to Gitmo in 1985, the base’s mission was focused on fleet training. In 2002, I returned. At that time, the detention camps were still being constructed on a restricted portion of the base. The media depicted the entire area as a prison camp. This perception irked me because the students, workers, contractors, hospital staff and Navy personnel were lumped together with camp activities about which we knew little or nothing.

The politics of the situation had cast a cloud over our little “town” and its residents.

In response, I wrote a book, Storm over Guantánamo. Using the framework of a mystery-thriller, I described the topography, unique wildlife and the base’s history.

There are many former Gitmo residents in Florida. In Orlando in 2012, a reunion for the high school classes (1954-2012) drew more than 350 alumni from all over the United States. Everyone still loves the place. Many wish they could go back to an idyllic life in the sun. I’d be interested in your editor’s view of the base, not the camps.

Anna Massengill, Lady Lake

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