For Deployed Marines, ‘We Bring the Store to Them’
Once a month, associates with the Erbil Air Base Exchange in Iraq conduct a rodeo to provide comforts of home to approximately 75 deployed Marines who are restricted to their camp because of mission requirements.
“They have been on lockdown for three months,” said Alex Wilkins, the Exchange manager at Erbil. “While we are only traveling a mile round trip, it takes a lot of preparation and coordination to make the rodeo happen.”
Rodeos bring supplies to deployed service members who do not have regular access to an Exchange store. The Erbil Exchange rodeo team is made up of three associates who gather the items, which are requested by the Marines. From personal hygiene products, laundry detergent, snacks and protein powders, the supply list for the rodeo varies each time.
“These rodeos are important to these Marines because their unit is on strict lockdown,” Wilkins said. “They have to stay mission-ready, so we bring the store to them.”
Wilkins and his team derive great satisfaction in providing the rodeos for the deployed military service members.
“They are clapping their hands, laughing, smiling and giving fist bumps when we show up,” Wilkins said. “It’s always a joy to see.”
Wilkins is grateful to his team who are always ready and willing to lend their help with the rodeos.
“It’s hard work and I thank you for never hesitating to step up to serve our military,” Wilkins said. “Now, let’s get ready for the next one.”