A Navy Memoir

Established as a base during the Cold War, Diego Garcia is a joint U.S. & U.K. naval and air operation. Known as ‘Footprint of Freedom’, today Diego Garcia is home to approximately 5,000 naval and air personnel as well as civilian support workers. It is one of the most important strategic bases in the world due to its isolated geographic location and proximity to the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Home to one of five monitoring stations for GPS, and one of only a handful of locations equipped with a Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance systems for tracking objects in deep space.

A beautiful tropical island and coral reef, those with the unique experience of living on Diego Garcia have fond memories of their time. Among some of the first of the U.S Naval personnel stationed on Diego Garcia was Commander Daniel W. Urish of the U.S Navy Seabees. In 1971 he was entrusted with the development of a military facility then known as ‘Reindeer Station’ and as commander of U. S. Naval Construction Battalion Forty (NMCB-40), Urish over-saw the first construction on the island, including an interim runway and communications operation.

During this period the final eviction of the native population took place and Diego Garcia transitioned from coconut plantation to military base. The plantation was officially closed by the B.I.O.T (British Indian Ocean Territory) administration on October 6th, 1971. Commander Daniel Urish has been writing a memoir about his time on Diego Garcia. This also includes a series of drawings depicting life at the Diego Garcia East Point Plantation, personal memories, knowledge and photos from that time for inclusion in this project.