MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
With Yuma’s sunny desert weather kicking into high gear, it will soon be common to see children forming long lines in front of ice cream trucks, patiently waiting for their ice-cold edibles.
A similar scene is happening right now at the Barry M. Goldwater Range, only instead of children its sunburned Marines and rather than an ice cream, the Marines are queued in front of a mobile post-exchange selling the necessities of garrison life.
Master Sgt. George Revenaugh, Marine Corps Community Services retail staff noncommissioned officer in charge, and Staff Sgt. Jose Bugarin, MCCS retail SNCO, are once again mobilizing the Marine Mart to haul goods for Marines supporting the biannual Weapons and Tactics Instructor course in the field.
Their trip to Site 50 on Tuesday was one such example of how Marines take care of Marines.
“It gives Marines a chance to see what MCCS can do for them out here,” said Revenaugh.
The mobile PX, originally the food stand at the station’s pool, has been supporting Marines in the field since 2010. It usually holds approximately $6,500 of merchandise, with approximately 400 different types of products. Sales can be as low as $300 or as high as $3,400, according to Revenaugh. Currently the PX makes biweekly stops to Sites 50 and 52, though a single trip or three is not unheard of.
Among the most popular items are hygiene products, Gatorade and tobacco.
“I think it’s nice,” said Cpl. Jeffrey Carter, Marine Wing Support Squadron 372 water technician. “We’re in the middle of nowhere. If they (Marines) get cigarettes at least they can chill out for a little bit.”
The mobile PX is the product of experience, trail-and-error configurations and a business sense of who needs what when.
“I saw a need, tried some things out, improvised a little and this is what we got,” said Revenaugh. “We’re pretty much trying to replicate what we do in Afghanistan on a smaller scale.”
While the 4133 military occupational specialty seems almost novel in theory, how the Marines execute their duties is paramount to troop welfare, a “morale booster,” as Bugarin called it. During deployment, they are in charge of providing touches of home in the form of not just mobile PXs, but postal services, gyms and internet so Marines can stay in touch with the states and other services.
“It definitely lifts you up,” said Cpl. Damien Fisher, Marine Wing Communications Squadron 28 field wireman. “My prior unit, we didn’t have this. Coming out here and being able to get (food and necessities), it puts a smile on your face. It’s definitely something to look forward to.”
The mobile PX is testament not only to MCCS Marines’ importance, but their proficiency. Up until 2008, they accepted cash only.
“Most Marines are set on plastic,” said Revenaugh, who has seen the field evolve in his 18 years of holding the MOS. Now, Marines can use their credit or debit cards, thanks to an innovative system of rubbing the card number on a receipt Marines can keep for their records. Once back on base, Revenaugh and Bugarin assemble their copies of the receipts and essentially do the transaction over again with a computer.
“We have to do a little bit more work with these things, but for the most part, they help the Marines,” said Revenaugh. “We afford them a little taste of home and give them items they may have forgotten.”
Inventory and pricing issues were resolved by Staff Sgt. Gregory Hill, a former Yuma MCCS Marine. Prior to coming out to the field, Hill’s system involved scanning the item beforehand and inputting the data in a computer that MCCS Marines would use in the field, thus keeping active track of their inventories and pricing items accurately.
Revenaugh mentioned the system was being pushed out Corpswide so MCCS Marines could use the system in Afghanistan. If the Marines at Site 50 are any indication, MCCS will achieve its goal of providing care to Marines.
“I think it brings (morale) up because there’re some people who can’t get mainside libo,” said Lance Cpl. Albert Sotelo, MWCS-28 mobile multichannel equipment operator. “It gives you some fresh Gatorade, like ‘yah, I got something to drink’. It makes you more relaxed.”
The buck doesn’t stop at food and clothing; MCCS via Semper Fit, in this particular case, provided the Site 50 Marines with a gym as well, replete with dumbbells and bench presses.
“You need to have lots of integrity in this MOS because you’re dealing with a lot of money and funds.” Still, Revenaugh remains humble.
“It’s not just us, it’s a lot of people helping us out,” he said, citing motor transportation Marines helping get the mobile PXs out into the field as well as pilots transporting supplies via aircraft.
“If you have a resource and a talent, why keep it to yourself?” Revenaugh added.
Revenaugh and Bugarin closed shop after receiving thanks from Marines, preparing for the next excursion for the them on Friday.
“Our job is to provide quality service to Marines of the quality they deserve,” said Bugarin.
“We’re emotionally connected to these guys,” added Revenaugh. “We know what it’s like being in the field and not having anything.”