MCAS NEW RIVER, NC - Putting the pedal to the metal, Operation Wheels of Freedom (OWOF) roared into MCAS New River and MCB Camp Lejeune on Aug 22, 2005 to deliver a compelling message to Marines -- "drive smarter, not harder."
This is an important message given the increased number of speeding tickets and traffic accidents involving military personnel returning from the war zone.
2nd Marine Expeditionary Force Commander, LtGen James F. Amos, used his Labor Day address to drive home this message, "automobile and motorcycle accidents continue to be the greatest source of mishaps resulting in death or serious injury within II MEF. Unfortunately, not a week goes by when our ranks are not diminished by senseless and preventable injuries or deaths."
According to John Graffius, Operation Wheels of Freedom Director, the idea is to "provide a program that is fun, entertaining, and offers a respite from the tension of everyday military life. As importantly, the program delivers key messages and driving skills that help keep Marines safe on the streets."
At the first tour stop aboard MCAS New River, OWOF treated Marines to a showcase of the hottest cars on the streets today. The field of nine represented the latest and most expensive "muscle cars" out of Detroit. In addition to the safety "chalk talk" and on-track driving experience provided by the OWOF Team, MCAS New River also enlisted the help of the local officials. There were static displays from the Jacksonville police department to include the D.A.R.E. car, the Seatbelt Convincer, and the Accident Simulator. Also present was the North Carolina State Police Drunk Driver Prevention Unit to offer a unique and interactive safety stand down.
From the hands-on performance driving experiences for service personnel to the "Drive smarter, not harder" message, OWOF provided a thrilling, winning program that will be long remembered by the Marines who attended.
Cpl William Isaacs, MALS 29, MCAS New River, sums up the feelings of the Marines who attended the event when he sent a note thanking the event organizers for the "once in a lifetime chance provided by the Wheels of Freedom Team. I learned a lot from you in our short conversation, things that apply to more than just racing, a lot about doing the right thing in life. You inspired me to be the best that I can both in the mission and in life."
The next stop on the OWOF tour will be at MAGTFTC Twentynine Palms, CA, on Sept 29. Events on Sept 29 and 30 are only open to Marines stationed at Twentynine Palms, however all Marines are welcome to attend the events on Oct.1 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information on OWOF, check out their website at www.operationwheelsoffreedom.com or contact Dave Muyres at email@example.com or Nancy Pasternack at (703) 784-3894 or firstname.lastname@example.org.