MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- The Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron-13 commanding officer planted a kiss on an English bulldog at the softball field adjacent to the station gym Friday as part of a scholarship fund-raiser.
Lt. Col. Bruce Neuberger, from Beulah, N.D., the MALS-13 commanding officer, narrowly edged out Marine Aircraft Group-13 Commanding Officer Col. Glen Hoppe for the honor of kissing Boomer, a 19-month-old English bulldog.
The "Kiss the Bulldog" competition came about as a way to raise money for the Officers' Spouses Club scholarship.
"My son's school did a kiss-the-farm-animal contest, and we were looking to do something similar," said Carolyn Deforge, an aircraft accident investigator and the OSC president. "We changed it to a bulldog because it's the Marine mascot."
After ensuring that all present MAG commanding officers would participate, the OSC placed collection jars in each of the squadron offices and informed the Marines of MAG and MALS of the competition: whichever CO had the most money in his jar would be puckering up to plant one on a bulldog.
Hoppe said the best part of the event was the humor behind it.
"You had all of us looking each other in the eye and going, 'Are we really going to do this?'" the Ajo, Ariz., native explained.
"It's a unique idea," said Lt. Col. Bob Deforge, from Plattsburg, N.Y., the Marine Attack Squadron-513 commanding officer and Boomer's co-owner. "It garnered a lot of support because I'm sure a lot of Marines would like to see their CO get slobbered on by a bulldog. It's better than a dunking booth."
The MAG Marines put forth votes totaling $430 to see which of the commanding officers from VMA-211, VMA-214, VMA-513, MALS-13, and MAG headquarters would kiss the rather homely Boomer.
"It was pretty exciting to watch the jars fill up, to see the daily tabulation of what we collected," said Neuberger. "I wasn't the world's happiest at the idea of kissing the dog, but I'll do anything for a good cause."
When the tallying was done, Neuberger pulled in about $20 more than Hoppe.
"I don't think (Lt. Col. Neuberger) thought we'd all pull through for him to win, but we did," said Sgt. George Leija, MALS-13 aviation supply, a native of San Antonio, Texas.
The money raised will go to the yearly scholarship provided by the OSC for the child or spouse of an air station service member.
"There's an application and an essay that dependants do," said Deforge, a native of Virginia Beach, Va. "The scholarship is merit based, not needs based. We look at not just the (Standard Achievement Test) scores and (grade point averages), but volunteer activities, family situations and that sort of thing. We take into consideration whether the applicant is a senior still in school or a mother of three who graduated five years ago but is interested in continuing her education."
Deforge said the "Kiss the Bulldog" competition raised nearly as much money as the wine-tasting fund-raiser the OSC hosted in October, and because of its relative ease, will definitely remain on the list of fund-raisers for the club.
"We got a lot of support from the commanding officers and everybody had a lot of fun," she added. "I'm very pleased with the results and in the future I hope to do something similar and have even better success."