Col. (promotable) JP McGee, 1st Cavalry Division’s deputy commander of support, offered an interesting anecdote last week about the value of post exchanges at military bases worldwide.
Post exchanges, or PXs, can offer wonderful memories for military families, he said. McGee was one of the guest speakers at last Thursday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony of Fort Hood’s newest main exchange, the Clear Creek Shopping Center.
McGee told the crowd his best memory of a PX came years ago at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., when he took his 1-month-old son to see Santa Claus, who was set up at the Toyland in the post exchange.
Further, McGee said, PXs can provide safe, conveniently located stores that are geared to serve soldiers and families. It may seem simple, but there’s a lot of comfort in that. Just ask any parent.
McGee’s words got me thinking about my own experiences with PXs. Growing up with an Air Force dad, my family would visit Army and Air Force Exchange stores wherever he was stationed, which included England, Japan, Germany and Texas.
In fact, we did the majority of our shopping at PXs — or BXs, as they’re known on Air Force bases.
At more than one duty station, the stores were a common “hangout” location for me as a kid. While my parents were shopping, I would go check out the toy section. Or, better yet, I would go to the arcade area that every main exchange or shoppette seemed to have back in the day.
At Goodfellow Air Force Base in West Texas, the BX was located across the street from the base chapel. So, after church on Sundays, while my mom would spend what seemed like hours talking to her friends, I would hop over to the BX to play some games or check out the store.
Years later, when I joined the Army, AAFES stores, shops and eateries became sites to de-stress a little bit from regular Army life. Even in basic training, the drill sergeants let us go to a nearby shoppette one day.
With Fort Hood’s newest post exchange now built and running, I’m confident it will be a big treat to the many soldiers and families who use it over the years, if not already.
Many memories will be made there.