There are so many large and frequently talked about Air Force Bases either for the good or the bad. Each AF family that has been around a while will have a story to share when asked, “Where has been your favorite base?”. The purpose of this “Best Base” feature series is to highlight the lesser-known bases that have been now-Minot residents favorite places to live.
Col Jeffrey Anderson, the 5 MXG Commander, his spouse Elizabeth and their family will always say that Hanscom Air Force Base, located in Massachusetts, has been their favorite place to live. This non-flying base consists of about 5,000 Active Duty, Reserve, Guard and civil service personnel. The Andersons lived there because he was selected for the prestigious National Security Fellows Program at nearby Harvard University.
The family was able to enjoy the Northeast from July 2018- June 2019. Elizabeth, who is originally from the Northeast, had family nearby so she was prepared and excited to return to the area and its culture. Even so, she said, “The base was so small, we were pretty shocked. But because so many people were there for school, we made great friends right away. The school on base was phenomenal. They were used to the high turnover and since being in the military was so unique to the area, the teachers treated our kids like gold. The staff constantly built up the kids and families. Massachusetts schools standards are extremely high as well, so my kids really grew as students.” The fact that Elizabeth’s family lived close by was another perk the family never thought they would have. She said, “I loved being able to pop over to my parents’ house- we made so many memories that I imagine non-military families get to do regularly.”
Because of the unique “Market-Rate Housing” (which is a special already-established housing area that determines unit rents on market values and local incomes), the Andersons were able to live in an older home without exceeding their BAH. Since they saved a bit of money, and only had one year at this location, the Andersons took full advantage of exploring the area which is full of historical sites. The family loved viewing the historic homes where famous authors Ralph Waldo Emerson and Louisa May Alcott once lived. They also spent their free time walking through Minuteman National Park and visiting nearby beaches and the city of Salem because the subway system was easy to navigate. Elizabeth also recounted that they were able to travel frequently. “We took weekend trips to New Hampshire and Maine, even Quebec! The skiing in Vermont and New Hampshire was amazing, while smaller hills near base offered cheap ski lessons for my sons.” Laughingly, Elizabeth joked about the absurd amount of Dunkin’ Donuts in the area and that they didn’t see the need for quite so many, but she still took full advantage of their iced coffees and delicious donuts anyway.
Although the Air Force sends Airmen all over the world, and making the best of each location is part of the Mil Families ways of life, there will always be that one special place. For the Andersons, that place will always be Hanscom Air Force Base.