October 18, 2014 --
TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - Combat Center Marines participated in the 77th Annual Pioneer Days Parade in Twentynine Palms, Oct. 18, 2014.
The Pioneer Days celebration began as the May Day event in 1937. It grew into a three-day event in 1950 and is now celebrated four days in October.
“In 1948, the Pioneer Days event was moved permanently to October with ‘Western Days’ adopted as a fixed theme,” according to Twentynine Palms Historical Society files.
The Chamber of Commerce took on the task of arranging the event in 1941. Today, Pioneer Days has many events planned by the chamber to make it a successful celebration.
“From Thursday till Sunday, everything that goes on; the carnival, the outhouse race, the parade, the pancake breakfast, the chili dinner, is put on by the chamber and partnered with companies in the community,” said Cynthia Truitt, executive director, Twentynine Palms Chamber of Commerce.
This celebration is a tradition to the heritage the city of Twentynine Palms stems from.
“We work with all the entities of the community to put on four days of fun to the pioneering spirit that made Twentynine Palms what it is today,” Truitt said.
Due to the Combat Center's proximity to Twentynine Palms, the city is supportive of military participating in the parade.
“Obviously with our community being so close to the base, this is a very patriotic community,” Truitt said. “We have a lot of people within the community and throughout the entire Morongo Basin who really love the Marines and sailors, and appreciate their service for our country.”
Among the Marines and sailors participating in the parade were Combat Center Chief of Staff, Col. James Hanlon, who drove though the parade in a purple Plymouth Roadrunner, and the Combat Center Sergeant Major, Sgt. Maj. Karl Villalino, who rode in the parade in a red Mustang.
Other Combat Center Marines and units contributed in the parade.
The Provost’s Marshal’s Office drove their Mobile Command Post. 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battlaion and Combat Logistics Battalion 7 drove two High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles and two Light Armor Vehicles. CLB-7 also drove two seven-ton Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements, one Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle, and one Military All-terrain Crane. A marching detail from Marine Corps Communication-Electronic School participated, and the Headquarters Battalion Color guard led the parade.
A Military Grand Marshal is selected to represent the armed forces in each year. Retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Elaine Bowden was chosen. Bowden has lived in Twentynine Palms for 41 years and was initially stationed at the Combat Center in 1973 as the last commanding officer of a woman Marine company.
“The Marine Corps sent me there in 1973 to take over the women Marine Company because back then we had women Marine companies separate from the male companies,” Bowden said. “This is the first year I was selected as Military Grand Marshal. I am honored and humbled to represent the military community in the parade.”
On Sunday, the K-9 unit from the Provost Marshal’s Office demonstrated what Military Working Dogs, CChaz and Colli, were capable of with an aggression and biting presentation. The Combat Center Explosive Ordnance Disposal team demonstrated their EOD robots and other equipment for the community.
Marines and sailors from the 3rd LAR volunteered to help the city run the event.
“We are here as part of a three-day community relations event that 3rd LAR did,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Josh Selvidge, chaplain’s assistant, 3rd LAR. “We helped set up the Pioneer Days event in Luckie Park, set up the fair, created roadblocks, and did any other work the city needed us to do.”
The Marines found volunteering to not only be good for the community, but also a good way to set themselves apart from their peers.
“It is good for these Marines to instead of just doing their duty at work, actually get out and do other things,” Selvidge said. “The military is getting competitive, and it is nice to be able to get out and distinguish yourself from other people by helping out.”
Truitt has been coordinating this event for the last two years, but next year she has plans to make a more military-tied event.
“It is going to be Twentynine Palms Salutes Those Who Serve ... it is the 25th anniversary of the first Desert Storm deployment in the '90s,” Truitt said. “We are planning on having the Moving Vietnam Wall, military fly-overs, paratroopers, and a huge military presence in Twentynine Palms.”