10 Weeks at Chanute

April 13, 2012

I’ve got all sorts of irons in the fire at the moment. LoE Book VI: “The Sands of the Solar Empire” is shooting along, as well as its follow-up Book VII: “Against the Druries”.

Writing fiction is all well and good, however, lately I’ve been feeling the call to dive into non-fiction. It’s a world I’ve not tried before. You’d think writing about the real world that you don’t have you build from scratch would be easy, but it’s actually pretty tough. You must consider each word and ensure they are accurate.

Chanute today, a silent ruin

I’m currently working on “10 Weeks at Chanute”, an account of my military experience learning how to turn wrenches at old Chanute Air Force Base in the middle of the flatlands in eastern Illinois and how my time there haunts me to this day.

I was one of the last jetmechs to graduate from Chanute. They closed it down about a year after I left. Today, Chanute is in ruins. It’s shocking to see the once well-tended streets that I marched down pock marked and weed-infested, the spotless buildings falling in on themselves and shedding paint, a-la Silent Hill. It’s like one of those cheesy postapocalyptic midnight movies where you wake up one morning and all the people are gone. The buildings are stopped in a moment in time filled with discarded bric-a-brac and stand empty wondering where everybody has gone.

White Hall, once the largest American military building prior to the completion of the Pentagon, stands in discolored ruins and awaits the wrecking ball

I knew when I was there, that in only ten weeks, I fell in love with the place and that I would feel its loss terribly. Perhaps I assign too much value on places and nostalgia. I once mourned for old Crosley Field and the Armory at Ohio State, and now I mourn for lost Chanute rotting in the sun. Like El Dorado, like Lemuria, Chanute is a place of riches now lost, just waiting to be rediscovered

I know that a bit of me rests in ruins in the flatlands of Illinois.

10 Weeks at Chanute is a moving, occasionally humorous, occasionally ribald account of one of the last soldiers to come to Chanute an unsure trainee and leave it a fully realized young man.

Look for it from Loconeal Publishing in 2013.

copyright 2012, Ren Garcia