MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The Marine Corps Community Services marketing department hosted a base tour to honor sponsors whose generous donations have contributed to the quality of life for Combat Center patrons.
It is through these donations that events such as the July 4 concerts, “We Salute You” functions, and many others, are made possible for families and single service members aboard the Combat Center.
The nine sponsor groups who attended were exposed to both the training and domestic sides to the base.
The tour began at the base Officer’s Club with a breakfast and safety information brief given by Jim Ricker, G-5 director, who was the main guide throughout the tour.
Following a short answer and question period, the sponsors loaded two buses, each heading to opposite ends of mainside.
The first group visited the Cultural and Archeological Curation Facility on base where Dr. Brian Henen, National Resources and Environmental Affairs ecologist, and John Hale, NREA archeologist, revealed some of the geological, cultural and archeological treasures found within the base boundaries.
Henen and Hale described the prehistoric geography of the base, which used to be rich with foliage and large animals, as well as the cultural background of natives to the area.
Sponsors also had the chance to interact with Thelma and Louise, two endangered species of desert tortoises adopted by Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone, the previous Combat Center commanding general, and cared for by NREA.
Meanwhile, the second group got acquainted with the base recycling and hazardous waste munitions plant. There, they toured the facility’s metal-crushing machines which turn junk from training ranges back into useable resources.
The use of the recycling center assures consistent clean-up after service members’ training, as well as making enough money to pay the salaries of the plant employees and additional funds for recreational conveniences for single Marines, such as televisions for barracks’ common rooms.
The groups then loaded their buses and switched locations before meeting back at the Officer’s Club for lunch and a presentations period.
After lunch, sponsors loaded a bus once again to make a dusty trip to Range 215, a mock Iraqi village used to train Marines and sailors during their final stages of Mojave Viper.
The group then stopped at the Explosive Ordinance Disposal section, where Maj. Michael R. Glass, EOD officer-in-charge, briefed the curious crowd on the types of rounds used by anti-coalition forces over seas, tactics they use to place improvised explosive devices and the suspicious behavior patterns they usually follow.
At the end of the IED awareness brief, the group was allowed to operate the robots used over seas to identify and remove IEDs.
Greg Sheldon, territory sales manager for Anheuser-Busch, said he was glad he came out for the tour.
“I wanted to come out, show support and see what we don’t see everyday,”
said Sheldon. “It was nice to see the other side of it; how they [Marines and sailors] live, train and where they stay. It was also nice to see Jim’s insight as we’re out here driving around.”
David Ball, a Phelps Chevrolet Nissan representative, said he was very impressed with the level of training Marines and sailors must undergo before deployment.
“I couldn’t imagine having to do what they do in summer climate with all that gear on,” said Ball. “I want them to know we appreciate them tremendously for the things they do for us. I’d like the general to know we will take care of them in return, even though what they do for us is far greater than anything we could ever do for them.”
Ball continued by stating his business plans on donating money from every car sale they make to Marine Corps charities like the Toys for Tots program.
Nina Gallager, commercial sponsorship coordinator for the MCCS marketing department, said she believes it is very important to not only recognize what the sponsors have done for the Marine Corps community here, but also to give a better understanding of the responsibilities shouldered by service members to protect our country and freedoms.
“The event truly hit home for me since I developed an admiration for the Marine Corps through my experiences as a military brat,” said Gallager. “Now, as the commercial sponsorship coordinator, I not only continue with the admiration, but have a stronger appreciation for the men and women whom serve and protect. Sponsorship enhances the quality of life for our Marines, sailors and their families."
Upon returning to the Officer’s Club, the sponsors shook hands and exchanged business cards to stay in touch until they meet again for a tour next year.