MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Marines killed in motorcycle accidents in 2009 outnumbered Marine Corps’ casualties in Operation Iraqi Freedom at the end of the campaign. Marines like Staff Sgt. Christopher Fulgium do their best to avoid becoming one of those statistics.
Fulgium, the safety chief at the Marine Corps Communications-Electronics School here, was awarded the 22nd annual GEICO Military Service Award for the Marine Corps for his work in traffic safety and accident prevention. Fulgium received a plaque, and a week-long vacation in Washington, D.C., along with a check for $2,500 and a tour of the nation’s capital in recognition of his work.
Fulgium was cited primarily for the weekly briefings he gives to new MCCES students. In addition to creating posters about motorcycle safety and making videos about proper motorcycle inspection.
“There haven’t been any incidents since I’ve been here,” said the Neodesha, Kan., native. “I took over as safety chief in December of 2009, and our club here got as large as 140.” Fulgium, a sport bike owner, said knowledge is power when it comes to staying alive during a ride.
“It’s more important riders knows what will keep them safe, instead of what happens a lot of the time,” he said. “The information gets put out, and Marines don’t know about it until someone who does calls them out for being jacked up.”
Organizing what knowledge and training is available to riders was crucial to a program’s success, Fulgium added. This is where the Semper Ride Web site, which features safety tips, forums, administrative messages and current road rules, comes into play.
“Finding where everything was available was tough,” he said. “The idea behind the Semper Ride Web site is huge. We needed a place to let motorcyclists be heard. It’s a good forum and Web site for people to get information about programs, orders and laws.” Communicating not only within MCCES, but with leaders of other unit clubs within the installation has been a huge help, Fulgium said.
“I started a Facebook page called 29 Stumps Riders,” he said. “The whole point was to collaborate as mentors. We also have meetings with all the mentors [from each command] on the second Wednesday of each month at the Staff Club to discuss big things.”
Dr. Joyce Teters, MCCES’ director of safety, said it was rewarding to see a second Marine who worked with her receive the award.
Teters said Fulgium shouldered the duties of safety chief, along with those of being a husband and his regular job, when he initially took over the position in January of 2008. “When he started out on this, it wasn’t his duty. He was an instructor over at the school,” she said.
Mike Baker, the director of GEICO’s military department, said it is an honor for a former veteran like himself to bestow this honor to current service members.
“I did 33 years in the Navy,” said Baker, from Atlanta. “It’s really special to me that we recognize the enlisted people and what they do, because I was an enlisted man myself. It’s great I work for a company that thinks so much of them.”
For those who feel they are worthy of recognition, as the saying goes, there’s always next year.
For more information on the awards program or to read about other DoD recipients, visit http://www.geico.com/information/military/serviceawards.