Customers at MacDill AFB’s Firestone receive a unique experience in the waiting room, thanks to manager Tim “Gunny” Hurst.
Service members marvel at 800 pieces of military memorabilia accumulated by Hurst throughout his career as a Marine, which started in 1980. He’s also found many items by simply browsing flea markets, garage sales and online, spending about $30,000 for the military artifacts.
“The mini-museum makes our brothers and sisters feel at home,” Hurst said. “Veterans see the stuff and then talk about their experiences, and their stories are amazing.
“You should see their faces light up when I put an old steel mess tray in their hands . . . priceless!”
Among the artifacts:
- Sand from Utah and Normandy beaches in France and Iwo Jima in the Pacific.
- Inert mines, missiles and rockets.
- Grenade launchers
- A Vietnam War-era field desk now used as a coffee table.
- Patton’s 1909 graduation book from West Point.
The mini-museum only adds to Hurst’s reputation for customer service.
During his six years at MacDill’s Firestone, accolades for exemplary customer service have flowed from a major general to sergeant who drives 90 miles from his house just to get his vehicle repaired.
“He not only provides exceptional customer service, but truly lives the Exchange value of family serving family,’” said Exchange General Manager James Clark. “Gunny is a role model for our concessionaires and associates.”
But Hurst won’t take full credit.
“I have 10 truly dedicated teammates who are here to serve those who serve,” Hurst said. “Like Gen. Patton said, 'No army is better than its Soldiers.’”