DRC Crystal Gates (center) presented a CLB-15 Thank You letter. 

Deployment Readiness Coordinator (DRC) Crystal Gates presented an appreciation letter from the Combat Logistics Battalion CLB-15 's Commanding Officer C.B. Mays along with a fine military sketch. President Don Weeks accepted the CLB Thank You along with Karen Utley, who handles our military support. Last May, Karen ensured a nice homecoming after eight months of deployment for CLB-13. Marines and Sailors enjoyed tasty burrito meals on the sands of Red Beach. The Military Burritos story appears on our website.
DRC Gates and Karen Utley share a joke during the speaker's introduction.  Crystal Gates wears two hats: Camp Pendleton DRC and Fallbrook Union High School District (FUHSD) Student of the Month (SOM) Awards Secretary. She previously worked as the San Diego Regional Blue Star Families Director 2017-2019 where Rotarians first met her.  We have been working with her since she was a Family Readiness Officer (FRO). She is passionate about supporting the military and their families. As a private sector worker and a military spouse, she knows the benefits of resources and support. We have all met her husband at the demotion party, and he recently retired after a 30-year military career.

Secretary Gates first put on her SOM hat. While SOM started in 1997, she stated that our Rotary has been helping honor FUHSD students since 2000. The SOM program appreciates the support! Students are selected by academics, community/school service, community/school activities, leadership and citizenship. She shared some good news! SOM breakfasts, rather than the parades, will resume starting October 7, 2021, the first Thursday of the month. Rotarians cheered!

As a DRC, Crystal Gates currently supports these squadrons: Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 39, MAG39 Headquarters, Helicopter Marine Light Attack Squadron (HMLA) 367, HMLA369 and Marine Medium Tilt-rotor Squadron (VMM) 164. Our club started working with her when she managed the needs of First Marine Logistics Group, First Medical Battalion, First Dental Battalion and Combat Logistics Battalion. She is the readiness, resource and referral expert for her squadrons’ needs while they are stationed at Camp Pendleton. She handles liaison duties between the families and the command. These efforts had a small budget that previously provided $25 per marine. It has been cut to a mere $12.50 per marine. The squadrons need our help, and she gets to meet people to ask for support.

In Memoriam: She supports squadrons that are mostly 23 years old like the marines that were lost last week in Kabul, Afghanistan Those marines were part of the Marine family and  the loss still hits home. The Front, San Luis Ray and San Onofre gates have setup up tributes.Those marines had participated in her squadron’s training exercises, and she asked for a moment of silence for the lives lost.

She brought up several upcoming squadron events: Upcoming Live Day and Fire Event, MAG Trunk or Treat on October 26th and the ongoing Room Makeup.

  • Live Day and Fire Event: She invited us all to this event to give the squadrons a “high five” in a realistically created combat situation. The date is yet to be scheduled.
  • MAG Trunk or Treat - October 26th: Last year, a wonderful amount of candy arrived to support Halloween. Some candy is still left over! What is the need this year? They need 125 kid-sized pumpkins! Children will paint pumpkins with the existing supply of paint. Grocery Outlet has a good price on them.
  • Room Makeup: In very drab barracks, the squadrons have stained/torn sheets, scratchy blankets, and used pillows. Many marines do not go home to their families after deployment. Still, they would appreciate comfortable bedding. They need new pillows, twin x-long twin top/bottom sheet sets, and new blankets that are available at Walmart or Target on clearance. (Please wash the bedding!) Snacks are welcome. DRC Gates puts together welcome home sign and a name placard. When marines walk in, they receive a warm welcome, a nice clean bed, and snacks. On average, there are 140-55 beds. 

If there are other ways Rotarians would like to help the squadrons, DRC Gates is absolutely game for any new ideas. We could provide her with options that are a better fit for our club.