Posted on Sat, Apr. 07, 2007
Facts overcome urban legend about Marines coming to Robins

By Gene Rector

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE - For a couple of days it had all the earmarks of an emerging urban legend.

"Do you know that 6,000 Marines are being transferred to Robins Air Force Base?" asked one caller to The Telegraph.

An e-mailer was even more specific. He had talked to a car-rental manager who had heard the story from two other people.

"Sounds like a permanent move of a division," the e-mailer opined, although he admitted it might not be true. "One of the people that told (the car-rental manager) was in real estate and was very excited about being able to sell some homes."

A somewhat flustered George Jozens, a Robins spokesman, took on the validation challenge Thursday and reported back hours later. He said the only Marine move to Robins on the radar scope is the transfer of a Naval Air Station Atlanta helicopter unit as part of the BRAC 2005 realignment and closure process.

"I've called a whole bunch of Marine Corps public affairs offices," Jozens said almost breathlessly in a voice mail. "When I called the Atlanta unit, they said their numbers were 600 active duty and 600 reserves and they will cut that number in half when they come to Robins."

That would mean a maximum of 600, he concluded. Did someone add an extra zero to come up with 6,000?

Finally, the definitive word came from a Marine Corps Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Blanca Binstock. In a late Friday e-mail, she pointed out that 197 Marines would be coming to Robins as part of the BRAC move.

"While the BRAC business plan indicates overall completion by September 2011," Binstock wrote, "it is currently estimated that Marine Corps movements are generally scheduled to be done by the end of September 2009."

So "Semper Fidelis," Binstock concluded, showing no remorse for skewering a juicy urban legend.

To contact Gene Rector, call 923-3109, extension 239.