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From Dateline (September 2, 2004)

DeLana Bush-Hamblin Returns to Campus She Remembers as Home

For DeLana Bush-Hamblin, going to work each day is like, well, like going home. Except in this case, home used to be El Toro Marine Corps Air Station ... and now it’s home to Cal State Fullerton’s El Toro Campus.

As the operations systems analyst, she’s in charge of almost all pieces of technology at the South County campus: TV, VCR, DVD players, computers, televised classes, copy machines, phones – you name it. And while she’s always enjoyed her work and Cal State Fullerton (she’s an alumna and had worked at the former Mission Viejo site), arriving to work at El Toro seems very familiar.

Hamblin shares her viewpoints on work-ing at the same base where she spent her formative years.


Q: How old were you when you lived on the El Toro Marine Base? Did you live here long?

I was 3 years old when my father was transferred here between his tours of duty in Vietnam. He was in charge of main-taining jets and we lived here until I was 8. Then we moved to Santa Ana for a year and then to the Lighter Than Air base in Tustin. But the exchange and commissary were at this base and many events took place at El Toro, so even when I wasn’t living on the Tustin base, we were here at El Toro quite a bit.

After high school, I worked at the exchange, in electronics at the one-hour photo booth. We attended movies here because the theater only charged a dol-lar. We also attended church here. Our gym was here. We’d wash our cars here. And of course, we’d never miss the Blue Angels air shows. We were always over here.


Q: What was it like coming back to El Toro to work?

Everything looked familiar. Obviously, things had changed but there was still so much that looked similar. Last year, when we had our first anniversary celebration, I invited my dad down and he really got a kick out of seeing our new campus. The building that Cal State Fullerton leases used to be the officers’ headquarters.

My daughters also get a kick out of visiting. They’re 8 and 10. I show them the area where my childhood home used to be. I tell them, “This area used to be a play-ground when Mommy was a little girl.” They think it’s pretty neat.


Q: What are some of your fondest memories?

This is going to sound funny, but I remember that all the Marines were given a week off every year for spring cleaning. Seriously. Because the houses, yards and barracks belonged to the Marines, they wanted to make sure everything was in good shape so they’d give everybody a week off to clean and make repairs, if necessary. You’d see whole families cleaning up their houses and yards.



What happened after you left school?


I signed up for the Army. I think, being from a military family, I adjusted to Army life a little easier. I was used to the structure and following orders. Some of the other women in my platoon had a little more difficulty getting used to a military environment.


Q: So you just can’t get the military life out of your system? You sign up for the army and now you’re back at the old base.

Well, I did go to school upon my dis-charge. I earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in radio-TV-film and started working at the Mission Viejo Campus when I was a student. From there, I became a staff member and just moved over to El Toro when it opened.


Q: What was it like opening the campus?

I really liked it because we were able to work with the architects, Physical Plant and design team from Cal State Fullerton to design the building and rooms the way we wanted. I worked very closely with the electricians and technicians. I had “hands-on” learning so I learned where all the ports and electrical network sys-tems are.


Q: Now that you’ve been here for two years, has the novelty of working in the place where you used to live worn off?

No. When I drive in, I’m always look-ing around – I see the area where there used to be a park or the area where I used to live. It’s still fun.

And I love the people I work with. George Giacumakis, the director of the El Toro Campus, is great. He used to get a kick out of telling everybody that George Bush is my father. That’s true – my father’s name is George Bush. Now he keeps telling everybody how I used to live here.