MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. (Jan. 16, 2018) – “And if you look to the left, you’ll see Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1, also known as VMX-1,” said Lisa Tourtelot, the Office of Communication assistant and tour guide for the Winter Tours at MCAS Yuma “Rumor is that somewhere out there lies an explanation as to why the Marine Corps makes acronyms with letters that aren’t in the name.” As the group of visitors laugh, the tour bus continued its slow, steady trip down the flight line. MCAS Yuma seems to be smiling too, as the sun shines brightly in the sky and the Marines that call it their home do their daily jobs.
MCAS Yuma resumed its Winter Tours to visitors from Canada, the Midwest, and even the local community Dec. 12, 2017. The tours have not been conducted for the past two years, but were resumed by Col. David A. Suggs, the station commanding officer, to build a better relationship with the community.
During each tour, guests observe the capabilities of the station, a demonstration of the K-9 unit, and an obstacle course demonstration, with each separate event at a different location on the station.
Leslie McClendon, a Yuma, Arizona, native and the group sales manager for the Yuma Visitor and Tourism Board, is in charge of bringing different groups to Yuma for vacationing or tours in Yuma. Although McClendon has been on MCAS Yuma during events at the Sonoran Pueblo and the yearly air shows, this is her first time being hands-on with the mission of the station and being able to see all the training that takes place.
“I love it,” McClendon said. “You can tell that everyone is very interactive and able to get one-on-one attention to see what’s going on with the training.”
McClendon worked with Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) and Col. Suggs to organize the Winter Tours. Their combined goal for the tours is to allow the public to see inside the mission of MCAS Yuma, and develop an appreciation for the local military units.
MCAS Yuma finished its second Winter Tour Jan. 16, 2018, providing its 41 visitors the opportunity to see the importance of having a military. Frank Brooks, a Prince Albert, Saskatchewan native and ex-Canadian Army service member was among this tour group.
“I loved it! It was very informative,” Brooks said. “It really opened my eyes as to what the Marine Corps does, and the K-9 demo was very interesting.”
While staying at his time-share in Lake Havasu, Arizona, Brooks recalls many times when he had seen and heard MV-22B Ospreys flying over or past his house. Although Brooks is a frequent winter visitor to Arizona, this was his first time being on station and getting to see the Osprey a little closer, he said.
After participating in his first winter tour, he now has an added appreciation for the bellowing noise of the aircraft.
As the year continues more winter tours will be held aboard MCAS Yuma, to foster a greater relationship with the local community. In return, the outside world will be afforded a new perspective on a familiar sight: MCAS Yuma and its hard-working Marines.