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Updated: 16 Sep 2001

American Forces Press Service

AAFES Provides Free Items To Pentagon Rescue Workers

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15, 2001 -- Military and civilian rescue workers detailed at the Pentagon crash site made a pleasant discovery yesterday morning: the Army and Air Force Exchange Service had arrived.

Mobilizing two 45-foot trailers from its Newport News, Va., distribution center, AAFES has established a field-style exchange store that provides rescue workers with free towels, bottled water, soft drinks, snacks, lip balm, T- shirts, socks and other items. The facility is operating around the clock.

"This is just wonderful, just fantastic, how AAFES is supporting the soldier," said Staff Sgt. Michele Hammonds, a public affairs noncommissioned officer with the Army Reserve's 214th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Fort Belvoir, Va.

Hammonds' unit had been assigned to provide support to the Pentagon recovery and relief operation, she remarked. The Portsmouth, Va., resident noted that she was happy AAFES was there, too.

"If you're here for an extended period of time, you need items like aspirin and other things that we didn't bring because we're so focused on the mission at hand," Hammonds said.

The AAFES facility is parked just outside the cordoned-off area where rescue workers labor to comb and remove debris, shore up sagging columns and continue the search for victims.

Army mortuary specialists Staff Sgt. James Frazier and Pvt. Khiran Corbitt of the 54th Quartermaster Company, Fort Lee, Va., spent part of their Sept. 15 afternoon work break at the AAFES facility. They both picked up shower shoes, soap and the like.

"The Red Cross, AAFES and the Salvation Army are doing a wonderful job, treating us very well and keeping us well fed," Corbitt said. "We really don't have to worry for anything and can concentrate on just doing our jobs."

Army Capt. Thomas Johnson and Sgt. 1st Class Jef Reilly, both of AAFES, drove to the Pentagon from the organization's headquarters in Dallas to help with the operation. Reilly noted that more than 2,000 military and civilian workers had used the mobile store facility since it opened.

"We were sent out here to provide support, to do what AAFES has been doing for 106 years -- and that is to provide support to soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen in time of need," Johnson said.

Army reservist Staff Sgt. Michele Hammonds checks out the field-style mobile store set up outside the Pentagon by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. The facility has provided a variety of free items to thousands of military and civilian personnel on recovery and relief duty at the Pentagon following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist crash of a hijacked airliner there. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.

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