MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Approximately 60 Marines and sailors with 1st Tank Battalion and 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, volunteered with Reach Out Morongo Basin for a community clean-up, April 4, 2014. The clean-up gave service members the opportunity to give back to the community at 25 different locations ranging from Twentynine Palms, Calif., to Yucca Valley, Calif.
“It shows another side of the Marine Corps,” said 1st Sgt. James Petty, company first sergeant, Company B, 1st Tank Battalion. “We are not just warfighters but outstanding citizens as well. It shows a different aspect … we do like to get out and touch the community.”
The Marines and sailors split up to visit homes throughout the Morongo Basin and provide their services to citizens in need. The volunteers fixed up homes, made repairs and did yard work and landscaping.
All of the volunteers admitted to having a sense of satisfaction, helping out the community. However, one Marine got more than he bargained for.
Lance Cpl. Brian Godward, anti-tank missileman, 1st Tanks, was helping World War II veteran James Poole with some house work when he found something surprising in the garage.
“We took down the rest of a pool and stacked some wood,” Godward said. “Then he opened his garage to a ’68 Mustang.”
Poole let Godward get in the vehicle to start it up.
“It’s every boy’s dream to get to start up a ’68 Mustang,” Godward said. “It was well worth the work.”
While Godward and Poole bonded over a classic car, a few blocks away two Marines with 1st Tanks helped save the roof of a home.
“I got estimates from painters and they said that it would cost as high as $1,200,” said Jeffrey K. Smithling, a disabled homeowner. “My sister heard about the program and signed me up.”
The Marines spent hours scraping and painting the trim of Smithling’s house, helping protect it against the desert sun and the need for costly repairs in the future.
These are just a few of the many stories of bonds and connections made between Combat Center service members and the citizens of the Morongo Basin.
“They saved my house,” Smithling said. “I’m thankful for programs like this.”