MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The second Marine Corps Communications-Electronics School Safety Fair, was hosted by the MCCES safety office and various other organizations at Victory Field Oct. 30.
MCCES held the fair to ensure their students completed annual safety requirements while also enjoying motorcycle stunt shows and booth exhibits from various organizations.
The students and MCCES staff were the primary body of attendees at the event, but it was also open to all personnel aboard the base, said Dr. Joyce Teters, the safety manager for MCCES and a native of Sioux Falls, S.D.
Training was also done on suicide prevention and many other topics aside from motorcycle and vehicle safety.
Aside from training, many exhibits were offered. The Provost Marshal’s Office hosted a water tank to dunk police in to raise money for their Marine Corps Ball. The Fire Department was also present with an earthquake house exhibit to show people what it is like in a house on fire and filled with smoke.
Teters said the MCCES students are allowed to own a motor vehicle based on what class and phase they are in. Students in Company A, for example, rate housing if they are married, and vehicles because of their ability to rate housing because their military occupational specialty schooling takes almost a year to complete.
Staff Sgt. Gene H. Smith, a Marine who suffered from an alcohol-related motorcycle accident and a native of Decatur, Ala., gave his point of view and story behind where he is in life right now in hopes it would change people’s perspectives on motorcycle safety and how they make decisions when riding.
“If I even impact the life of one Marine, sailor, anybody, I consider it a success,” Smith said. “The pain and money I went through because of this situation were enormous. I broke my left ankle, fractured my left hip and broke my left wrist. Along with that, I lost 80 percent of my skin from my waist down, and slid anywhere between 150-170 feet.”
Smith continued explaining why he feels education on motorcycles is valuable.
“When you cross the road, what do you think of?” said Smith. “Everyone says check for cars, they look for two headlights. People don’t typically think of motorcycles as a huge problem when they want to cross the road, and that is precisely why they are so dangerous.”
“We’re trying to promote general safety,” said Teters. “But, we’re starting to heighten the value of motorcycle safety. We’re losing lots of Marines because of accidents involving motorcycles, and nobody wants that.”
Teters said the tragedy of the 71 Marines the Marine Corps has lost in vehicle accidents in fiscal year 2008 is too much, and every day service members need to concentrate on what everyone does when they are involved on, or know someone who operates, a motorcycle.
MCCES is not new to the practices of a large, recognized, safety campaign.
“We’ve been recognized for the Geico Motor Vehicle Award for the military,” Teters said.
Jeff Groff, an independent stunt performer and a native of Elmira, N.Y., is a civilian who does stunts for movies and television, who performed at the fair. Groff, Eric “E-dub” Whitcomb and Kyle “Crazy Kyle” Rapport, all performed for the crowd during the MCCES Safety Fair.
“We love doing shows for the Marines,” Groff said.
He continued that performing stunts on bikes is a lot of fun, but takes years of practice. Also, if you’re not sober, even if you are a professional, it’s best to not try performing stunts.
Groff continued that they love to do shows for the military because they get the feeling of returning something to the service members.
“We really appreciate everything the military does for us,” he said. “If it wasn’t for Marines and the other branches, we wouldn’t be free to ride and do our thing like this.”
After the motorcycle show was finished, the attendees were released to check out the numerous booths and retailers who had displays.
Teters said her reasoning behind hosting having the fair was so the students could appreciate bike safety, learn something from a person who has been there, and also learn in a fun way by seeing the shows along with briefings.