MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- On Friday evening, at the Sonoran Pueblo Consolidated Club aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., station personnel said goodbye to one of their most beloved and hard-charging leaders.
Ron Pearce relinquished his position as MCAS Yuma’s director of range maintenance, following an illustrious 22-year span. Pearce acquired the position while the department was still in its infancy and aided the Corps’ premiere aviation training facility in establishing its legacy through his devotion to daily duties.
Working in support of MCAS Yuma’s mission was everything to Pearce. He was commissioned as a Marine officer in 1978 and went on to become an instructor for Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 in 1987. Pearce then transferred to the Corps’ reserves and picked up his job as the MCAS Yuma range maintenance director in 1991.
Pearce dedicated his career to coordinating and collaborating with a myriad of local, state and federal agencies in assurance that the military training operations of MCAS Yuma abide by Department of Defense instructions. Serving as a conduit between the DoD and these agencies, he ensured that military operations could coincide with the flow of natural wildlife in the vast ranges under his reign.
“As a veteran of 2,000 combat flights on all of the Yuma ranges, I was able to do what I did, as a Marine Corps pilot because of men like Ron Pearce – coordinating and reacting with all of these agencies – that your average aviator has no understanding, or no clue, even exist,” said Bill Sellars, a former Marine pilot and Pearce’s longtime coworker. “We do what we do on these ranges because Ron Pearce was out leading the charge 20 plus years ago, coordinating and cooperating with all of those agencies to ensure that the groundwork was laid for naval aviation to continue to train out there on an uninterrupted basis.”
In 1991, Pearce’s wife was diagnosed with an inherited disease that would cause her kidney to deteriorate over time and lose functionality.
When it became apparent in recent years that his wife would need dialysis to stay alive due to kidney failure, Pearce made a sacrifice to ensure his wife maintained a quality way of life.
As part of a program, set up by the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., Pearce gave up his kidney in order for his wife to receive a kidney from a compatible donor.
“It really is a telling story of the type of an individual he is, to make that kind of a sacrifice for his spouse - the effort, commitment and sacrifice one would make,” said Sellars. “It’s reflective of what he did, serving in this capacity as the director of [MCAS] Yuma Range Management.”
For Pearce, sacrifice has always been the nature of the beast.
He watched over 60 percent of the Marine Corps’ training grounds for more than 22 years. For 15 of those years, he balanced his duties as the range maintenance director and a reserve Marine, before finally hanging up his uniform in 2006.
He sacrificed, not for the commodity that goes hand-in-hand with these responsibilities, but for the inherited responsibilities that make the commodity an afterthought.
“I’m going to miss the people - especially the younger Marines and generations,” said Pearce. “When I got here [to MCAS Yuma], there was a training squadron for the F4, A10 and Harriers. The one thing that’s remained constant is working with the younger generation. Training them and watching them grow. I’m just passing it on; I’m just one person in the chain of the 238 - year Marine Corps history.”