Measuring Time In The Military

hourglass in pebbles to show time

In the Broadway musical “Rent,” the cast sings a song about measuring time in “Seasons of Love.” As military families we are familiar with measuring time.

525,600 minutes GIF from the Rent musical

Whether you love or hate where you’re stationed, we’re all pretty much measuring time left.

You may be at your duty station for 525,600 minutes (1 year) or 1,051,200 (2 years) or even 1,576,800 minutes (3 years). Sometimes you want to savor each meal at your favorite restaurant. Maybe you’re counting down the number of times you will have to go through the gate with horrendous traffic. You could be counting how many days left you have in the best neighborhood you’ve ever lived in.

We were stationed at Fort Wainwright, AK for two and a half years and like most places, everyone experienced life here differently.

There are those who grew to love Alaska and couldn’t wait to make it their forever home. As their time to PCS grew closer, they were counting the years until retirement so they can come back. And there are the folks counting a little differently. They are less in love with Alaska and are counting the days until they are closer to Target, family, or the Lower 48 in general. I’ve measured our time here in tubs of hot chocolate, winter tire changes, midnight sunsets, trips to the auto shop for broken cars, moose sightings, salmon caught and floats down the Chena River.

Measuring time is fun, but tell me you don’t love the comparison game?

I’ve been saying things like, “This winter wasn’t nearly as bad as last winter when we hit -42 degrees below zero.” Families at Ft. Hood get to put things in perspective and parse about whether, “This summer is better than last summer when we were over 100 degrees for ‘X’ amount of days.”

Shape of USA with American flag
Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

I chatted with military spouse friends and The Military Mom Collective team to find out what parts of life they’re counting at their duty stations. This list isn’t complete, but it shares a few ways we measure life where we are. 

Dyess Air Force Base, TX

  • Number of mosquito bites and sunburns.
  • Counting how many times you’re stuck in the bathroom with the whole family waiting out the tornado warning.
  • How many times the roads flood from rain.

Fort Bliss, TX

  • Number of sandstorms.
  • Number of margaritas enjoyed with friends.
  • How many times you’ll cross over into Mexico.

NAS Corpus Christi, TX

  • Times you had to pull sticky burrs pulled from your dogs paws.
  • How many migratory birds you spotted as a family on the coast.

Fort Sam Houston, TX

  • How many homemade tortillas you’ve scarfed down.
  • Number of late night HEB runs.
  • Times you had to take out of town guests to The Riverwalk.
  • Humid nights at The Pearl.
  • How much money you spent at Buccee’s every time, and not on gasoline.

29 Palms Marine Base, CA

  • Number of tattoos you’ve been tempted to get.
  • Number of sunburns after forgetting sunscreen.

 Miramar Air Station, CA

  • How many times you had to turn on the heater (zero).
  • How much sand you accumulated from trips to the beach.
  • How many times you watched the Miramar Air Show.

Marine Corps Recruiting Depot San Diego, CA

  • How many recruit graduations occurred while you were there.

Joint Base Lewis McChord, WA

  • Trying to count number of raindrops to pass the winter.
  • Number of sunny days.
  • Number of coffee shops to try.

Fort Carson, CO

  • Watching for snow on Pike’s Peak.
  • Times you kicked yourself for not learning how to ski or snowboard before being stationed there.
  • Trips to Garden of the Gods.

 Fort Huachuca, AZ

  • Amount of time driving to Tucson.
  • How many monsoon rains you experiences.
  • Times you had to spell or pronounce the name for someone who’s never been there.

Tinker Air Force Base, OK

  •  Hours spent in the storm shelter.

Offutt Air Force Base, OK  

  • Number of College World Series Games you watched.
  • Amount of bugs you had to deal with.

Scott Air Force Base, MO

  •  Slices of Imo’s pizza eaten.

NAS Pensacola

  • Grains of sand spilling out from every crevice of the car. 
  • Hurricanes- counting time from before Matthew or after Irma, etc.
  • Each jet stream streaking across the sky from the Blue Angels.

Any Base in PA

  • How many times people talk about the groundhog.
  • How many Hershey kisses you’ve eaten.

National Capital Region- Fort Belvoir, Joint Base Anacostia-Boiling, Pentagon

  • How many hours of your life you’ve lost driving on I-66, I-95 or I-495.  
  • Number of family members asking what state D.C. is in.

Fort Campbell, KY

  • Number of times you drive to the KY side for shopping because sales tax is so much cheaper than Tennessee. 

Keesler Air Force Base, MS

  •  Mississippi Crawfish boils attended.
  • Number of Mardi Gras parades and parties.

Fort Leonard Wood, MO

  • Times the Rubidoux river has flooded.
  • Number of tornadoes, ice storms, blizzards and floods you’ve been through.
  • Number of times driving past Frog Rock. 
European map
Image by Hands off my tags! Michael Gaida from Pixabay

Aviano, Italy

  • How many corks you’ve collected from empty bottles of wine. 

Sasebo Japan Naval Base

  • Number of Sushi-ro trips.
  • How many typhoon seasons you experienced.


  • How many castles you’ve seen.
  • How many markets or festivals you’ve attended in each season. 
  • How much German you learned.

Okinawa, Japan

  • Bowls of ramen enjoyed.
  • Number of vending machine coffees.
  •  Amount of Coolish pouches eaten/slurped. 


  • Bottles of sunscreen you go through.
  • Number of gorgeous rainbows you see- daily.
  • Number of shave ice eaten during a week.

Hopefully you’ll get to measure time in some of the ways our team members have and add a few measurements of your own. What would you add to our list?