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CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Imagine this: your credit union will sign up 20,000 new members this year, all in the must-have 18 to 25 age group. All of them have two years guaranteed employment, and are automatically signed up for direct deposit and an ATM card. Spend a few minutes talking to Brad Smith, vice president of strategic development for Pacific Marine Credit Union, and you learn that each day at his credit union is like the war in Iraq: a mix of shock and awe. Pacific Marine is headquartered on the Camp Pendleton Marine base about 50 miles north of downtown San Diego.

Although the 70,000-member credit union expanded its field of membership in 2000 beyond Marine and select Navy units to include the counties of San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino, the vast majority of Pacific Marine members are either active or retired military. Smith said the credit union’s community charter “exit strategy” was only to prepare for the always-present threat of base closures.

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