MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC -- One of the Marine Corps’ largest recruiters stopped in Laurel Bay to help a few Marines change duty stations in style, May 27.
These recruiters do not fit in Dress Blue or do pull-ups, but they turn more heads and catch more second-glances than most Marines will in a lifetime.
Since October 2002, the Corps has enlisted the aid of 80,000 pound, 70 foot long recruiters in the form of 1,000 tractor-trailers, decked out on all sides with Marine Corps graphics.
The 18-wheeler cruised through Laurel Bay to pick up furniture and belongings of Marines making permanent changes of station.
“The truck was moving from the East Coast to West Coast, so we thought it would be nice if some Marines’ gear could catch a ride,” said Frank Martin, quality assurance chief, Traffic Management Office, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. “These trucks are an impressive sight and we don’t see them much around here so this was a treat.”
The five-year program to cover the trucks with recruiting banners reached its peak when the 1,000th tractor-trailer to be draped in scarlet and gold rolled off the lines in May. The Marine Corps pays for the materials and application of the new paint jobs while private trucking companies donate the space for free as a public service.
“It’s really a campaign used for public service awareness about the Marine Corps,” said Capt. Maxwell Boucher, paid media officer, Marine Corps Recruiting Command, Headquarters Marine Corps. “We can have our graphics, icons and symbols out there where key influence's and folks in our target market can be inspired about their Marine Corps.”
With an estimated 204 million vehicles in the United States, the 18-wheelers have the opportunity to reach vastly larger audiences than door-to-door recruiting and phone calls, according to the MCRC.
“The ‘rolling billboard’ campaign continues to assist our recruiting efforts by increasing awareness about opportunities for young men and women to serve in the Corps,” said MCRC Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Christopher Cortez. “The colorful Marine images on the sides of these 1000 tractor-trailers are seen daily by untold thousands of prospective applicants and their families as the vehicles travel throughout the nation.”
Drivers of the trucks also report positive reaction to the “Corps-on-wheels” concept.
“The other truckers going by honk their horns and give me the thumbs up. A lot of them are former Marines, I hear it over the C.B. radio,” said John Peterman, a driver for Bar-Nunn Trucking. “Drivers will pass me on one side, then slow down and pass on the other side to see the whole truck.”
The Tri-Command area, with more stop lights than freeways, may not see one of the trucks again for a while but its brief appearance was enough to make an impact.
“Even while it was pulling through Laurel Bay, people were stopping and staring,” Martin said. “For people who love the Marine Corps, these trucks definitely lead the pack.”