Coming to a base near you: Exploring local military expos

Coming to a base near you: Exploring local military expos

Vendors set up and prepare for a crowd of Marines at the Marine West Military Expo’s three-day event at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in 2011. The vendors varied from developers who designed realistic combat software to those who provided indirect-fire detection systems. (Marine Corps/Cpl. Paul Torres)

By Kristine Schellhaas

Last week was a whirlwind of green and red; discussing life with veterans donning red league jackets, active duty service members, and their beautiful brides at the Marine West Expo, held at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base.  

This expo is a tremendous event where companies like L-3, Lockheed Martin, GovX, Danner, Benchmade and more can showcase the latest gear to the military world.

According to expo organizers, “..the men and women who are users of the items presented at the exposition - and will become planners for the Corps' future - are able to see the very latest in equipment and technology, and can discuss their needs, relate personal experiences and engage in dialog with manufacturers. Since the event's inception, Marine Corps' support for the exposition has been superb in all respects.”

If you are interested in attending an expo near you, there are three Marine expos taking place at Camp Pendleton in February, Camp Lejeune in April, and Quantico in September.

The Marine Corps League was out front and center representing the Old Corps with stories, smiles and laughter. These guys are truly amazing and love to share a bit of their history and love of the Corps.

It’s hard to walk away after being surrounded by all the amazing men and women in and out of uniform without being grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this special group.

I met Sgt. Maj. Houle (Ret), director of operations for the Museum of the Marine at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. His gusto for life is infectious and brings together people from all walks of life. The museum is going to “showcase the history of the Carolina Marines through a series of themed galleries, which will contain both artifacts and interactive exhibits.”  The museum is getting ready to lay down memorial bricks, so act quickly if you’d like to purchase one, or give a gift of legacy to another.

I also met Robin Hutton, who is instrumental in creating a memorial for warhorse Sgt. Reckless at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia. 

I learned all about this amazing warhorse serving in the Korean War and featured in LIFE magazine. In March 1953, in just one day, this horse made 51 trips from the Ammo Supply Point to the firing sites, carrying 386 rounds of ammo on her back (over 9,000 pounds), walked over 35 miles through open rice paddies and up steep mountains with enemy fire exploding at the rate of 500 rounds per minute.

Wounded twice she never stopped, even shielding Marines and carrying the wounded to safety. What an amazing story and I may never have learned about this historical event if I hadn’t attended the expo.

I highly encourage all of you to discover your local military expo and spend the afternoon making connections and learning about all the new and upcoming events in your military world. It’s a great way to reconnect with some friends and have a fun afternoon.

About the author

Kristine Schellhaas is married to an active duty Marine and is the founder of USMC Life. She is a 2013 Military Spouse of the Year Nominee and has been praised by the Mrs. Amos, the First Lady of the Marine Corps, for having one of the best online resources for Marine families.  Kristine’s experience working for Fortune 500 corporations, volunteering with the Marine Corps, and starting her own business has enabled her to find her passion connecting individuals and sharing resources and activities. She holds an MA in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University, a BBA in Human Resources and BBA in Business Management from Boise State University.