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Lt. Col. Timothy Pochop, director, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs, points out the different parts of the Archeology and Paleontology Curation Center to Congressman Raul Ruiz during his visit to the Combat Center, March 18, 2016. The congressman serves on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and the House Committee on Natural Resources. (Official Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo/Released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo

Congressman Ruiz treated to tour of Combat Center

24 Mar 2016 | Story by Lance Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - As the largest combined arms, live-fire training facility in the Marine Corps, the Combat Center has the responsibility of ensuring Marines remain a force in readiness. With that mission comes great responsibility. Through initiatives such as the Water Conservation Plan, co-generation plants and the desert tortoise Headstart Program, the installation exceeds training expectations while remaining good stewards of the environment and conscientious contributors to the surrounding community.

Congressman Raul Ruiz visited the Combat Center to discuss the various programs aboard the installation March 18, 2016, and engage with command leadership to gain a better understanding of the Combat Center’s unique capabilities. Ruiz serves as the Congressman for California’s 36th District and serves on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs and the House Committee on Natural Resources.

“One of the things that I’m really impressed with is the use of renewable energies,” Ruiz said. “There are programs the base has in place that can be used as an example for other communities.”

Maj. Gen. Lewis A. Craparotta, Combat Center Commanding General, briefed Ruiz alongside representatives from the staff offices on the mission of the Combat Center and the role each staff office plays in supporting that mission. Following the brief, Ruiz was treated to an aerial tour of the base via helicopter. The visit continued with lunch at Phelps Mess Hall and concluded with a tour of the Archeology and Paleontology Curation Center.

“I think it’s good to raise people’s awareness outside of the installation as to all the conservation measures that we take,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Pochop, director, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs. “All the efforts we have in place to conserve water, to ensure good air quality or minimize impacts on the tortoises, are great to advertise to folks outside the fence line so they know what we’re doing here.”

In addition to gaining insight as to how the base functions, the congressman also hoped to gain more knowledge on what the transition from active duty to veteran is like.

Ruiz says serving our veterans is important to him because of the dignity with which they served our country and the spirit they have for serving one another. Ruiz spoke highly of his visit to the installation saying he enjoyed the people he met and the facilities he toured.

“I had a great time,” Ruiz said. “Seeing the combat and training grounds via helicopter was very impressive, I enjoyed my conversations with good human beings who care about our country, who have the discipline to do good work and a devotion to our communities.”

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms