Remembering the Past with Colonel Buddy Styers
This story is part 1 of a 7 part series, which chronicles the redevelopment of the old Air Force base into the Market Common area, as we know it today. Our history continues where we left off with the September issue front-page feature.
The redevelopment of the Air Force base was a step by step process, and often there were many steps happening concurrently that were connected to one another. One of the first things the Redevelopment Authority tackled was to set in place public infrastructure— building roads throughout the 1800 acres of old Air Force base property. “To make a community out of it,” says Buddy, “we needed lots of streets. The Air Force only made streets for utilitarian purposes.” But first, they had to get rid of buildings that were in the way.
“It seemed,” Buddy tells me, “that everywhere we needed a building, there wasn’t one, and everywhere that we wanted to put a road, there was one. And the buildings that were there, weren’t really usable.” For example, where the big lake currently is, there were 10 three-story dormitories, which, in the redevelopment plan, no one could use, so all of which needed to be demolished. The Authority put a regional storm water retention system, comprised of 5 small lakes and one 21 acre big one, in its place to protect the area from flooding after a hurricane. Farrow Parkway, which is next to the big lake, was built at the same time. The entire project took two years to complete.
Buddy’s vision for the parkway was to create a nice, meandering neighborhood parkway that would connect the front gate and back gate of the old Air Force base. “We knew it would contribute to the positive redevelopment of the area,” he tells me. The name Farrow came up because of his connection to the Doolittle Raiders, and he’s also from South Carolina.
Buddy wanted to make sure that the past was not forgotten, so every street here is named after a person who was involved in the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in some way. There are only 2 exceptions— the streets Styers and Iris.
“Using the names of people from the Air Force was part of our interest in retaining our history of the base,” says Buddy.
By state law, the City of Myrtle Beach Planning Department has the authority and responsibility of naming streets. Buddy proposed names to the planning department, and they were in charge of approving them or not. Buddy got a listing of the officers, enlisted personnel, and civilians who worked on the base, and had to consider in his recommendations, who was alive and who might not be.
Unbeknownst to him, the developer of Market Common proposed Buddy’s name, “Styers”, be a street; unbeknownst to the developer, Buddy proposed that the developer’s wife’s name, “Iris”, be one. The department approved both, and with the erection of the street posts, the two were both surprised to see themselves commemorated in the Market Common.
“I always wanted to be stationed at the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base,” Buddy tells me with a smile. “I guess I just came along late.”