MSG Corner: “Thunder Cove: honoring the past, always prepared for the present – the future”

  • Published
  • By Maj. Laura Ramos
  • 36th Mission Support Group Detachment 1, Diego Garcia
Within Diego Garcia's 17 square miles of land surrounded by U.S. Naval port facilities, a lagoon hosting 12 military sealift command prepositioned ships and two parallel 12,000-foot runways, lies a 48-acre tract of land known as "Thunder Cove."

Thunder Cove is maintained by the Airmen of 36th Mission Support Group, Detachment 1 and is readily identified with the Air Force by people in Diego Garcia.

Located on the lagoon side of Diego Garcia is a site equipped with 180 tent pads wired with communications and electrical outlets, nine shower facilities and a 240,000 square foot multi-use contingency complex that contains a dining facility, post office, gym, internet café, shoppette, movie room and barber shop. What draws many people to the site today are the chapel, multiple recreational facilities and a private beach.

Additionally, Thunder Cove is the location of the Aerospace Ground Equipment and vehicle maintenance facilities, as well as storage facilities for U.S. Central Command and Pacific Air Forces vehicles, AGE and Basic Expeditionary Airfield Resource War Reserve Material. Thunder Cove has the capacity to host and support Airmen who are either deployed to Diego Garcia or who are enroute to another location within the U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. African Command or CENTCOM.

Thunder Cove has hosted up to 2,000 Airmen who supported numerous major operations like Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. During these operations, the area has evolved from being called Air Force tent city, to Camp Justice and finally, Thunder Cove.

In May 2006, the Airmen of the 40th Air Expeditionary Group, who deployed to Diego Garcia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, held a contest to suggest a new name for the area. There were 140 different suggestions submitted. In July, the leaders of the 40th AEG decided on the name Thunder Cove; alluding to the notion that thunder describes what Air Force aircraft do and cove, rather than camp, better describes the setting in which the Airmen in Diego Garcia live.

To commemorate the area's new name, the 40th AEG held an event that included a renaming ceremony, as well as a 5K race and other sporting events.

The last group to live in Thunder Cove departed Diego Garcia in 2006. Today, Thunder Cove tent city area sits silently; absent the hustle and bustle of Airmen preparing for a bomber mission and the sight of green tents occupying the land. However, the work of maintaining the grounds and the WRM equipment continues.

Despite the absence of a large contingency of Airmen deployed to Diego Garcia, Det 1 personnel work vigilantly to ensure the facilities, vehicles and AGE assets at Thunder Cove are maintained in the most pristine condition and are ready to be utilized by the next expeditionary unit tasked to deploy to the area.

Det 1's mission statement proclaims that the unit will, "Operate in a high state of readiness and deliver operational excellence for the warfighter by providing WRM, infrastructure and immediate firepower capability in the support and execution of national interests." With the exceptional state Det 1 maintains its equipment and facilities, anyone who visits Thunder Cove would agree that the outstanding Airmen in Diego Garcia are indeed effectively engaged and ready to provide optimal warfighter support.