Four White Sands Missile Range employees, Mel Allen, Yvonne Rice, Devin Rice and Todd Rice, have made working at WSMR a family affair, with most of the family employed here.
Mel, who works at Bell Gym as a sports specialist, said the Army and his father brought him to WSMR.
When Mel was 19 his dad was transferred to Fort Knox. “I realized I loved WSMR and I came back,” he said.
Mel said the attraction to WSMR was the community, which he described as nice and comfortable. “I don’t feel rushed and the whole community and post is nice and quiet. When you live here you want to stay.”
Mel said he started off at the Frontier Club, then became the cook at the Child Development Center before moving to Bell Gym.
Mel said even his younger son, Jaylen Allen, 14, who plays basketball at Las Cruces High School, is already making plans to work with him at the gym. His daughter, Amiah Allen, 12, plays volleyball for White Sands Middle school.
“I love working here,” Mel said. “Sports is my thing. I love organizing sports. This is where I’m supposed to be.”
Mel’s plans for the future – to stay at WSMR.
While at WSMR Mel met Yvonne and fell in love.
Yvonne, who works at the Child Development Center as a program assistant, started working at the Child Development Center almost since her arrival at WSMR in 1992. Before that she did Family Child Care from her home. The Army and her ex-husband brought her and her children to WSMR, but she never left.
When Yvonne’s sons Devin, 25, and Todd, 26, turned 16 they also started working at WSMR.
Yvonne, who is from upstate New York, said she loved the school and the fact that her kids got pretty much one on one attention. Both boys started as summer hires at WSMR and they haven’t ventured out. “It’s nice that we are all here. I don’t mind them not going away,” she said.
“I didn’t think we would stay long. I still consider myself a New Yorker, but for the kids this is their home.”
Yvonne said it’s nice that she can depend on her boys to help with the younger ones. “People are surprised when they realize we are related,” she said.
Devin, who works at the Frontier Club, said WSMR is his hometown. “I kind of feel drawn to this place,” he said. “No big opportunity has gotten me to leave, yet. Everybody has the plan to take off and leave, but it just hasn’t happened for me, yet. Eventually I will, but I’ll probably end up coming back too.”
“It’s simple, it’s easy, I think there is definitely a comfort zone,” Devin said of his attraction to WSMR.
At one time the family lived on post, now they all live together in Las Cruces. Devin said both he and his brother went through the WSMR school system, starting in elementary school and finishing at the middle school before going to high school and graduating.
Devin said living on post allowed him to work on post because he could walk to his job. “When we turned 16 we were allowed to work and we put in applications,” he said. “We both started at the Frontier Club.”
Due to their work schedules, Devin said all four drive separate vehicles to work. “It’s our alone time,” he said.
Devin said working here is another connection to the community. “A lot of people know who my mom and Mel are, and a lot of people are surprised when they find out that they also know my mom.”
Devin said there is plenty to do at WSMR. “You actually just have to want to do things,” he said.
“I’ve had that conversation with a lot of people who come in and say they are bored, but they are bored because they want to be, not because there is nothing to do.”
Devin said he has plans to go back to school to finish his degree. “I’ll probably get a business degree with an emphasis in marketing, that can translate into a practical job skill.”
Devin said he keeps in touch with a lot of his friends who have come and gone. “A shocking number of them end up in El Paso.”
Todd, 26, said he has worked at Outdoor Recreation since 2009. He said he enjoys working at WSMR and for now this is where he plans to stay.