MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. - The Secretary of the Navy, Honorable Ray Mabus, touched down upon the flight line of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., for the very first time on Thursday afternoon.
A formation of MV-22B Osprey were lined up on the tarmac adjacent to the secretary’s arrival point; the echoing bellow overhead signified the numerous airborne operations taking place on station.
Having arrived in the midst of the final exercise of Weapon and Tactics Instructor course 2-14, the secretary said it didn’t take long to recognize and appreciate the prominence of MCAS Yuma.
“So far it’s been great. [MCAS Yuma] is one of the premier training facilities we have in the Marine Corps,” said Mabus. “Just coming in down the flight line, seeing the MV-22s, seeing the joint strike fighters. I know the quality of training, the quality of work that goes on here, is exceptionally high. I’m looking forward to getting out and seeing more of it.”
Once he was welcomed aboard by the senior leadership of MCAS Yuma, and before observing any more of the daily operations, the secretary was escorted to the Sonoran Pueblo restaurant here for a special, but non-edible, treat.
Mabus gathered his lunch from the buffet, sat with a group of junior Marines and sailors, and chatted with them. He moved from table to table, engaging in conversation with as many station personnel as possible – giving them a chance to voice opinions and learn about the man atop their chain of command.
Most importantly, to Mabus, he gained an opportunity to learn from them.
“This is the best part of my job – dealing with sailors and Marines, and particularly lance corporals, corporals, third class corpsmen, things like that,” said Mabus, a former surface warfare officer in the Navy. “Finding out what concerns them, finding out why they joined the Navy, why they joined the Marine Corps. Finding out what their plans are, it’s a thing that makes this job the most worthwhile.”
On Friday at 10 a.m., the secretary will officially name the United States Naval Ship Yuma in a ceremony at Gateway Park, in Yuma, Ariz.
This will be the final step in the initiation of USNS Yuma into the naval fleet. Mabus believes this ceremony will be a triumphant milestone recognizing the cohesiveness MCAS Yuma and its local community have demonstrated over the past 50 years.
“It’s going to honor the people of Yuma because they’ve had such a close relationship with the base here,” explained Mabus. “This is a ship that is going to carry Marines and their equipment for a long time to come.”