COMBAT OUTPOST GOLDEN (near Kharma) Iraq -- In a combat environment, smiles can be few and far between … especially when Marines are short on stimulants.
Enter the Mobile Post Exchange, which brings disposable goods, personal articles, tobacco products and high-octane beverages into forward areas where the precious commodities aren’t normally available.
Marines from Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines were recently treated to a visit from the Mobile PX, bringing with it 13th MEU disbursing Marines providing cash withdrawals for purchases.
As it brings goods to forward areas, the Mobile PX crew faces every possible danger its consumers do, including roadside bombs and ambushes. It is the effort of many moving parts to run a single mission, and the PX crew is awarded great satisfaction.
Corporal Kenneth Boyd, a vehicle operator from Combat Logistics Battalion 13, drives the PX trailer from post to post, and said the reaction upon arrival is universal.
“You can really see the Marines’ faces light up,” he said, “It makes them feel better and I really like doing my job.”
Boyd, a native of Lincoln, Ky., said the largest articles of consumption are tobacco products and energy drinks – a direct correlation between the fog of war and 24-hour combat operations.
“This is the kind of stuff that keeps them going out there,” he said.
Staff Sgt. Chandu Malapaka, offering a leadership perspective, said the reason for the visit boils down to hygiene and morale.
“We’re out here in the dust all the time, bloody noses and everything, and we need those basic necessities … It’s like a third-world country out here,” said Malapaka, BLT 3/1 admin chief.
“And at the same time, it’s nice to have the luxury items, too … Really, it’s like a piece of home they’re bringing to us.”
For more information about the warriors of BLT 3/1 and the Fighting 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, visit the Unit’s Web site at www.usmc.mil/13thmeu.