By: Jenah Wieczorek, Army Spouse
PCS orders to Coastal Georgia? Congratulations and welcome to the beautiful south where food, friends, and the great outdoors reign supreme. This area has plenty of things to do and is sure to be a good fit for every type of family. Between the Army, Coast Guard, National Guard, and retirees, this area is very military-centric. But before you start singing “Dog Face Soldier,” lets dive in and learn more about your new duty station.
WHERE IS FORT STEWART?
Fort Stewart is located in Hinesville, Georgia about 40 miles east of Savannah and covers Liberty, Bryan, Evans, Long, and Tattnall counties. It is home to the 3rd Infantry Division and considered the largest Army installation east of the Mississippi River spanning over 280,000 acres. Fun tidbit: The gate guards say “Rock of the Marne” when you go through the gate due to the unit’s history in WWI, but as of 2017 the answer “Top of the Rock!” halted as it was discovered to have no historic meaning. Read more about why 3rd ID says “Rock of the Marne” from our friends at We Are The Mighty.
FORT STEWART HOUSING
Balfour Beatty manages the Fort Stewart housing. Homes range from 2-5 bedroom(s) apartments, multiplexes, duplexes, and the single-family homes are reserved for ranks O5 and up. There are amenities and playgrounds in each neighborhood, but some of the newer built homes also have their own splash pads and pools. Fort Stewart housing received the 2017 resident satisfaction property award winner and has lots of different options for families wanting to live on post.
FORT STEWART AMENITIES
Ft. Stewart has one commissary, one PX, four gyms, and multiple CDC centers. If you are into outdoor recreational equipment rentals, you will not be disappointed with the Fort Stewart MWR! Other amenities on Fort Stewart include multiple chapels, a golf course, pools, splash pads, bowling, car washes, and three elementary schools. Kids in grades 7th-12th attend local community schools in Hinesville and buses are provided. Liberty County has two high schools and three middle schools to accommodate the kids. Military families also send their kids to First Presbyterian Christian Academy which is a private school in Hinesville accepting kids from Preschool to High school and the Bradwell Institute right outside the front gate. See some of the amenities here!
WHERE IS HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD?
Hunter Army Airfield is located in Savannah, Georgia about 40 minutes away from Fort Stewart and is the Army’s longest running airstrip on the East Coast and for that reason, it serves as an alternate landing strip for U.S. space shuttle missions. Home to 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, HAAF has its own post housing, and other base amenities, but on a smaller scale compared to Fort Stewart. Georgia is an excellent place for outdoor fun and the Hunter Army Airfield MWR has some tremendous outdoor recreational facilities.
HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD HOUSING
Hunter Army Airfield housing is also managed by Balfour Beatty. The five neighborhoods on post house active duty families, along with DoD Civilians and retirees. The DoD Civilians and retirees are approved to live in Wilson Acres with the other four neighborhoods reserved for active duty families. Homes are similar in style to Fort Stewart and range from 2-4 bedrooms duplexes and single-family homes with playgrounds throughout.
HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD AMENITIES
It may be a small post, but it has a commissary, PX, two gyms, a golf course, theatre, and two CDC centers. Hunter Army Airfield MWR boasts a marina, skeet shooting, archery, a golf course, and campgrounds making it a massive attraction for a family who loves the outdoors. There is one elementary school on post, which is also open to the public. Kids in middle school and high school attend local schools around the Savannah area. The best feature about Hunter Army Airfield is the proximity to Savannah. The Rio gate basically exits into a Target parking lot (yay!) and the front gate puts you close to the Savannah Mall. View the amenities here!
BAH AND COST OF LIVING
The median home cost in the Savannah area is $125, 300 making it a very attractive place to buy. Want to stretch your BAH even further? Try Hinesville where the average cost of a home is $108,900! Richmond Hill is a favorite of military families and sits almost halfway between Fort Stewart and HAAF, but averages $230,700 to buy a home. For those considering using their VA loan, local Realtor and PCSgrades “A-graded” agent, Karin Carr dives in with an in-depth home market report.
COASTAL GEORGIA WEATHER
With the average high of 77 and low of 55, you’ll enjoy this duty station if warm weather is your thing. Along with the tropical climate, however, comes hurricanes. Hurricane season on the Atlantic runs from 1 June to 30 November and for that reason, families in this area are encouraged to download storm apps. While not all households in the area are located in a flood zone, some flooding and high winds are experienced during hurricane season. It’s a great idea to check your homeowner’s insurance policy to review your wind damage coverage and to check on flood insurance rates.
CULTURE AND CUSTOMS
Dog Face Soldier
What’s a Dog Face Soldier? It’s a term used to describe U.S. Army foot Soldiers, aka Infantryman, during WWII. The theory is that they wore dog tags and were treated like dogs during training. Living in “pup tents” also factors into the name. Dog Face Soldiers is also famously seen in the autobiographical movie ‘To Hell and Back’ based on the life and events of Audie Murphy. Murphy is THE most decorated Soldier of WWII. The song was written in 1942 and adopted by the 3rd Infantry Division.
The Marne Express
3rd ID’s culture is a passion for training and readiness giving it the nickname “The Marne Express.” The opt tempo is fast here and you are either deploying or training to deploy. You will certainly encounter low flying helicopters here but do not let that scare you. The Ranger Regiment is training and those are the sounds of freedom.
Unique to this post is Fort Stewart’s Warriors Walk located on Cotrell Field. This field is named “Warriors Walk” because of the units deploying and redeploying hence a warrior is always walking across it. Warriors Walk features 498 crepe myrtle trees honoring the Soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan with 3rd ID and attached units. In the summer, the trees bloom creating a beautiful archway over the walkway. Families and Soldiers decorate these trees with American flags, wreaths, and Christmas décor each year. Bring the family and help remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Jekyll & Tybee Island
Tybee Island, the closest beach for vacationing, is about an hour from Fort Stewart making it a local favorite. Families can take a tour of Forts Pulaski and Screven, visit Cockspur Lighthouse, relax on the beach, or visit the Marine Science Center. The most notable restaurants on Tybee are The Crab Shack and The Deck. 1.5 hours south of Fort Stewart will land you at beautiful Jekyll Island. The beaches at Jekyll are one of a kind and perfect for a day of relaxing. You can also get out and explore Driftwood Beach, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, take a historical tour or attend the Georgia-Florida Golf Classic.
Savannah Bananas Baseball
Taking the family to a Savannah Bananas game is a must here! Starting in 2016, the team is a part of the Coastal Plain League and named the league’s organization of the year in 2016 and 2017. Tickets sell fast due to the atmosphere of the games being so fun and family friendly. They also have been known to do surprise military family reunions!
The Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival
Going on its 20th year, this annual event happens in Richmond Hill. The 3-day weekend event is dedicated to fantastic seafood, live music, vendor booths, and tons of family fun. Due to its reputation, the average number of attendees has grown to over 35,000. Past featured music headliners include the Dave Mathews Band, Drivin’ & Cryin’, Greg Allman & Friends, Collective Soul, 38 Special, Travis Tritt, and other big names! Put this on your bucket list while stationed here.
Savannah’s most famed River Street is a must see if stationed in this area. River street is paved with cobblestone streets along the river and features boat cruises, restaurants, antique stores, and much more! Above all, River Street
Wormsloe Historic State Park
Wormsloe State Park is the epitome of the South due to the Live Oak and Spanish moss lined roads. This home once belonged to Noble Jones who came over from England with James Oglethorpe in the colonial days. Wormsloe today hosts guided tours and events, the tabby ruins, gravesites, and picnic areas. Most noteworthy, you can even get married there!
You are so close to Florida and the options are endless. Drive two hours into Jacksonville to experience beaches, Ikea (this is the closest one!), or catch a Jaguars football game. Grab those discounted tickets from the Fort Stewart MWR and head four hours south to Disney World in Orlando! Want a more unique experience? Head six hours south to the Kennedy Space Center and watch NASA launch and meet real Astronauts.
Drive four hours north and end up in the state capitol, Atlanta. Atlanta is a great weekend getaway for families because you can watch a lot of sports. The Braves, Falcons, Hawks and ATL United all call Atlanta home. Furthermore, you can visit the World of Coke, Atlanta Zoo, Fernbank Museum, Georgia Aquarium, or the Atlanta Cyclorama. These places offer military discounts, but also check into the Atlanta CityPASS if you want to visit more than once as you’ll save more money with the PASS.
Coastal Georgia is a great place to experience living by the ocean, or at least as close as one can get with the Army. Sunshine, seafood, beautiful scenery, and the famed Southern charm make this post a fun place to live for families. Rock of the Marne and we can’t wait to see y’all soon!
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Jenah is an Army spouse, mother of 2 boys, dog mom and professional volunteer. She currently resides in Fort Stewart, GA with her family.Jenah Wieczorek