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04-23-09, 07:35 AM #1
Combat Logistics Battalion-3 Brings Mobile Exchange, Post Office to Marines in Remote
Combat Logistics Battalion-3 Brings Mobile Exchange, Post Office to Marines in Remote Southern Afghanistan
Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force - Afghanistan
Story by Lance Cpl. Ronald Stauffer
Posted: 04.23.2009 05:56
HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Combat Logistics Battalion 3 delivered some of the amenities of daily life that most take for granted during a specialized combat logistics patrol to Forward Operating Base Now Zad, Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 1, 2009.
CLB-3, the logistics combat element of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan, made the delivery of precious cargo to the Marines of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), the ground combat element of SPMAGTF-A, who are serving in one of the most remote and austere areas of southern Afghanistan.
The cargo – enough containers filled with food, beverages, toiletries and much-needed uniform items to create an expeditionary post exchange. Additionally, 10 large containers of mail were transported aboard the trucks by second platoon, Motor Transportation Company, CLB-3.
With mountainous terrain encircling much of the FOB, an abandoned district center nearby and enemy insurgent forces scattered throughout, Co. L Marines rely mostly on combat logistics patrols and air deliveries for supplies and provisions from CLB-3.
"I think it went very well," said Gunnery Sgt. Brian K. Scarbrough, the Marine Corps Exchange manager assigned to CLB-3, whose services directly enhance SPMAGTF-A's morale, welfare and recreation programs.
Scarbrough explained that he brings items the Marines want or can't get and makes sure he takes as much of the items as possible to meet their needs.
The Marines at the FOB may go two weeks to a month before seeing a logistics patrol depending on factors such as weather, terrain conditions and the overall logistics challenges and demands of southern Afghanistan.
"Bringing the exchange boosts morale, and the Marines get what they want or need," Scarbrough said. "They're ecstatic, and it's like their icing on the cake."
Utilizing the FOB's dining facility as the exchange site, CLB-3 Marines carried in boxes of chips, crackers, energy drinks, soft drinks, hygiene products and uniform items, filling most of the building's capacity.
Scarbrough said the Marines see all the little things that are taken for granted because they don't always have them.
"People don't realize the extent of what we do as [Marine Corps Community Services Marines] Marines," said Scarbrough. "Personally, I was happy to be involved and able to give the Marines who are actually in the fight the opportunity to get what they need."
At a small table, Cpl. Bona Chantha, a disbursing clerk assigned to CLB-3, provided the Marines the opportunity to withdraw a cash advance, making it possible for them to make purchases at the mobile post exchange.
"It was a great opportunity to serve the Marines who are in the fight, as well as see how they interact at the FOB," Chantha said.
Equally as important for the Marines at the FOB was CLB-3's first mobile post office, giving Marines the opportunity not only to send letters home but also extra personal items they've accumulated, which many packed in storage trunks that were purchased at the mobile post exchange.
"It was a big hit," said Staff Sgt. Jason N. Dixon, the postal chief based out of Okinawa, Japan, who is currently assigned to CLB-3. "It was really successful, and we were really busy."
Dixon said the Marines were extremely happy to send home letters and lighten their load of non-essential personal belongings before redeploying home.
As well as collecting outbound mail, Dixon also brought the 10 large containers-worth of inbound mail with him.
"It feels great," said Cpl. Ryan P. Little, an automatic rifleman assigned to second platoon, Co. L. "We knew it was coming, and everybody was excited."
Dixon said CLB-3 did an excellent job, and he was impressed with what they accomplished.
"They did a bang-up job, and I appreciated the help that I got from my fellow CLB-3 [Marines]," said Dixon. "They were ready and willing to volunteer and help out."
At the end of the one-day mobile post exchange and mail operation, $20,433 of total goods were sold, and the post office accepted more than 5,000 pounds of outbound mail for processing.
Since arriving in Afghanistan, Scarbrough's post exchange sales have totaled more than $429,000, including sales to all of the U.S. military's service branches, as well as civilian Department of Defense personnel and alliance forces. Dixon's postal operation has received nearly 600,000 pounds of mail and out-processed more than 74,000 pounds of mail. CLB-3's disbursing section has provided services to almost 14,000 customers in casual payments totaling nearly $1.5 million.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
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