WASHINGTON – All good things must eventually come to an end. Mick McAndrews knows that as well as anyone. The current deputy director of the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Office is retiring after five years at the installation and a total of 30 years of service to the U.S. Navy.
McAndrews, a native of Sacramento, Calif., achieved his degree in recreation administration not too long before accepting the position of youth program director at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif. After gaining some experience there working in military recreation, he found himself in the nation’s capital working at Navy Headquarters as its first-ever youth program manager.
“If you’re willing to move around, you can make a great career for yourself.
It turned out to be a great move,” McAndrews said. “It was a big challenge learning the bigger MWR picture, but one I certainly was interested in and looking forward to in my journey.”
As it turns out, it would be the first of two tours for him here in the Washington, D.C. area. He first traveled to Sicily where he served as a recreation director and later as MWR director at Naval Air Station Sigonella. After nine years in Europe, he took a similar position at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He would spend a decade there before arriving at JBAB in 2009 and immersing himself in the installation’s conversion to a joint base.
“It was certainly a big challenge. No one had any field experience on how to joint base. There was no model to follow and there were a lot of doubts at the time,” McAndrews said. “It’s no minor task merging two completely different cultures together and making it work. Looking back on that period, I think we did a great job. The base will only get better.”
When McAndrews began his career in 1983, he recalls a vastly different way of doing business. There were no personal computers, email, internet or cell phones. The evolution of technology has been remarkable, according to him. Though, he said Navy regulations have changed over the years and are drastically different now as opposed to then.
“The level of trust was higher back then than it is now,” McAndrews said. “The screening and scrutiny done now to hire someone is incredibly slow. I understand it’s to avoid hiring the wrong person. Though, my hope is that process gets better.”
Programs and activities have also evolved in the Navy, thanks in no small part to McAndrews. He helped launch its Young Adult Program, now called its Liberty Program, for single Sailors many years ago. The robust program can now be found on every Navy installation providing opportunities and alternatives in recreation to young service members.
“I really take pride in the Liberty Program. Young people coming into service need to know there are things to do and places to go off base. Recreation is very important,” McAndrews said. “I’m pleased to see a focus on more family based programming, as well. The Navy is hungry for family programs and we’ve also been able to expand them greatly over the years. I consider these tremendous accomplishments.”
According to McAndrews, the task now is to sell the family home in Alexandria, Va. and retire to Hawaii with his wife, Carolyn. Like her husband, she is hitting the 30 year mark in service and is retiring as a budget analyst from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).
A long time gardner, he plans on rejoining the same orchid society he was once a part of in Hawaii, in addition to growing his own vegetables, entertaining family and friends and taking a cruise later this month to the Panama Canal.
“That’s a retirement present for my wife and I. When we get back, the plan is to then drive across country to California before flying to Hawaii,” McAndrews said. “I have a great ride supporting the troops and their families all these years. That’s always been my motivation. I’m not going to forget how much it’s all meant to me.”