Supply Crate Delivery: Dugway Proving Ground
I’ve been to a lot of military bases, and I’ve deployed overseas twice, so when I say that visiting Dugway Proving Ground in the middle of the salt flats of Utah was an experience, you can know that I’m not being overly dramatic.
Firstly, it’s an hour from the nearest actual town. If you want a McDonald’s cheeseburger, you’re driving an hour each way into Salt Lake City and back. Secondly, there is nothing between Salt Lake City and this base: no gas stations, no Dennys, no truck stops, nothing but some solar panel farms, and large stretches of mountains and flat terrain.
Then, you get on the base, which you think would at least be a bastion against the nothingness surrounding it, but no. A population of 800 civilians and Army troopers are there doing work on chemical, nuclear, and biological materials. There is no post exchange, which is the equivalent of a military base’s shopping mall. What they do have is a gas station shoppette, which doubles for their clothing sales and their Class Six (alcohol sales). One of my two meals, while I was on post, was from a food truck that parks at this gas station during lunch rush.
There are literally no traffic lights on the base.
Do you get where I’m coming from? This base makes every horrible base you’ve ever been look like a vacation spot. Hell, it felt like I was deployed forward to a middle-of-nowhere base in Iraq. And people live there for extended deployments and training rotations, except you’re not getting the tax-deductible combat pay of being deployed. But you can drink.
So when the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) personnel on Dugway Proving Ground reached out for help, saying that they were looking to open up some kind of gaming room for their troopers, I agreed, but I needed to see this place for myself. And sure enough, no amount of pictures could have readied me for what I found there. They found us as a part of our event at Fort Campbell late last year when they were reopening their junior enlisted club after a rash of suicides in the barracks caused them to re-think how they were supporting their folks.
Across the way from the one bar/weird paid dining facility/community center they have is a military housing center that felt like a motel that has been closed down since 2018, but it’s a snapshot in time more along the lines of looking like it was built in the mid-80s and never updated. Walking through there and salvaging furniture for the gaming lounge to use, it was quite a strange time. But again, this walkthrough helped show me just how bleak things are over at Dugway Proving Ground.
In the end, I arrived there with a Pelican case full of goodies: a Playstation 5, an Xbox Series S, a Nintendo Switch, and an Oculus Quest 2, as well as a PC donated to us from Origin PC to act as a place for troopers to come, sit down, and have a dedicated connection to Stack Up’s Overwatch team on Discord.
I’m fairly certain that 10% of the bases’ population (about 80 folks) came out for the grand opening of their gaming center. Going around the base the day before, there was a general excitement about meeting me, learning about the Stack Up mission, and how awesome it was that we were helping them out. Granted, they have a long way to go and a lot of things planned to spruce things up, like getting some gaming chairs and some “gamer” lighting strips, but at least they borrowed some black-out curtains from their defunct hotel next door to make sure none of the light was sneaking in and whiting out the screens.
We want to thank Mr. JonsAtWar for helping sponsor this monster Supply Crate. Every Supply Crate going out gets sponsored by one of our “bronze” tier streamers or higher, but JonsAtWar has been chipping away at his fundraising numbers, year over year, for, jeez, 5+ years now. Not only that, but he’s been working as…what is the wording…a full-time volunteer for Stack Up for several years, helping to run both our Stream Team as well as onboarding folks for the Stack Up Veteran Stream team (Veterans only) at no charge. When the team was trying to figure out who we were going to pick for this massive Supply Crate, they came back with his name as a way of saying thank you for all his years of service and continued fundraising efforts.
Four more bases left in the “Shanghai Six Summer Tour” of 2022, where I’m delivering these monster crates: Fort Drum, Fort Bragg, Fort Carson, and Fort Lewis!