MCAS YUMA, Ariz. -- MCAS YUMA, Ariz. - Serving as the largest community open house event of the year, the Yuma Patriot Festival made its debut to the public at the South Combat Aircraft Loading Area (SCALA) aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Feb. 27.
The event brought military personnel, their families and the local Yuma community together for a day of celebration. Hosted by MCAS Yuma’s Marine Corps Community Services, the Patriot Festival included a Marine Corps Battle Challenge obstacle course, inspirational speakers, static displays and a concert headlined by Maddie and Tae and David Nail.
“It was an amazing experience to see them perform, this was a great break from the military life and everyone seemed to enjoy it,” said Lance Cpl. Annie West, a heavy equipment mechanic with Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 (MWSS-371), stationed out of MCAS Yuma.
The Marine Corps Battle Challenge served as a timed physical fitness competition that both civilians and service members could participate in. Competitors raced up a cargo net, descended down a knotted rope, a wall jump, monkey bars, and used a simulated rifle to return enemy fire. For the final hurdle, competitors simulated a casualty evacuation by dragging a 170-pound dummy to the finish line.
The festival also hosted the real heroics of Navy Cross recipient and motivational speaker, Gunnery Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez.
Rodriguez-Chavez, a senior enlisted advisor with MWSS-371, is a recipient of the second-highest military decoration for valor for his heroic actions in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Rodriguez-Chaves recalled how a mission to meet with village elders took a turn for the worse when his team was ambushed. Under fire, he devised a plan, drove several High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) into danger zones while being assaulted by direct fire, rescuing trapped Marines and retrieving the bodies of his brothers-in-arms killed in action.
“It’s an honor to be able to speak at the festival,” said Rodriguez-Chavez, a native of Sanderson, Texas. “I tell my story so that people will not forget the fallen – to show people the amazing things we do out there when we deploy.
The Patriot Fest also offered attendees an up-close look at a variety of static aircraft displays, including the F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, MV-22B Osprey, AH-1Z Super Cobra, UH-1Y Venom and many others.
ldquo;It went very well,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Diviney, the director for the Patriot Festival. “It was put on so that the community would get a chance to come on to the base and see the Marines and the equipment they use.”
To close out the show, Country Music Award nominees Maddie & Tae and David Nail performed several hits for an enthusiastic crowd.
“Thanks for coming out to the 2016 Yuma Patriot Festival,” said Maddie & Tae, American female country music duo Madison Marlow and Taylor Dye. “We love you and thank you for your service.”