TOP: CAPTAIN MARTIN COOPER and Captain Richard Reuer organize juices and snack bars available to military personnel. Bottom: Captain Cooper and volunteers organize items for distribution.
Salvationists in Moreno Valley, Calif., are assisting U.S. Marines in the same caring manner that Salvation Army doughnut girls ministered to soldiers during World War I–providing water, snacks, and a compassionate concern for spiritual need.
The front doors of the Moreno Valley Corps are literally a few short blocks away from March Air Reserve Base. March ARB is home to the 452nd Air Mobility Wing of the Air Force Reserve, and in recent weeks it has been host to 30,000 Marine reserves on their way overseas. An additional 30,000 may be deployed in the immediate future.
Comforts are sparse at the base facilities in which these people gather as they await their departures, sometimes for up to 15 hours. Troops often arrive by bus at about midnight and leave the next afternoon. There is one drinking fountain and a small canteen, but mostly the troops have to simply wait outside day and night. Their personal belongings were shipped ahead, so often they do not even have a razor or toothbrush.
Captain Martin Cooper has met Salvationists from nearly every state. “I spoke with an advisory board chair from Wisconsin, and an advisory board member from Indiana,” he said. “I’ve met six Salvationists from throughout the country. The Salvation Army is definitely part of the Marine Corps.”
Cooper is startled at how young the reservists are–18 and 19 years old, and that so many of them are female. As Cooper counsels with them they share their fears, loneliness and anxiety about what lies ahead. One youth from Rhode Island told him, “I’m scared–if I get killed will the Red Cross help my family?” Cooper gave him a phone number for The Salvation Army in the East, and promised him if anything happened to him, his wife should call the Army and they would help however they could.
Another asked for a Bible. “I asked him, are you a Christian?” He said “not yet.”
“You have to remember that the 30,000-60,000 who go through here on their way out will also come back through here when they return. We’ll have to gear up for that,” Cooper said.
Water and snack bars are what the military has requested The Salvation Army to provide. The Salvation Army Riverside Corps has pledged, in faith, $10,000 to front the cost of the operation. Persons wishing to contribute to the comfort of our troops should specify March ARB Deployment in the memo portion of their check and mail it to The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 1357, Riverside, CA 92502. One hundred percent of all the funds contributed will be used to provide the supplies to the departing troops.
The Riverside ARC assisted in this project by storing and coordinating the water donations. Two truckloads of water were donated by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.