Marketing the Army Reserve: 376nd QM at Navajo Nation Fair

By Weir, Jeffrey | Army Reserve Magazine, Winter 2001 | Go to article overview

Marketing the Army Reserve: 376nd QM at Navajo Nation Fair


Weir, Jeffrey, Army Reserve Magazine


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz.-Lt. Col. Wes Martin, commander of Albuquerque, N.M.'s 372nd Quartermaster Battalion, knows a good idea when he hears it. Early last summer, one of his soldiers, Sgt. Ruth Williams, approached Martin about an annual event that has been virtually ignored by the military for as long as she could remember.

Every September, the Navajo Nation, located predominantly in the "four corners" area of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah, holds its Navajo Nation Fair - an extravaganza of Navajo and other American Indian heritage, rodeo, livestock, farming, food and entertainment venues. It converges on little Window Rock, Ariz., the ancestral Navajo tribal home every year.

According to Fair Manager Deana Jackson, more than 85,000 paid admissions and more than 100,000 estimated parade viewers participated in the September celebration. Earlier estimates of those numbers were too big to ignore for Martin.

"I have been attending the fair all my life," said Williams, who is Navajo and a fuel supply specialist with the 877th Quartermaster Company (Petroleum Supply) in Albuquerque. "I can't recall any involvement with Army, Navy, Marines or Air Force displays or recruiters. As an Army Reserve soldier or as a servicewoman in general, I thought that this is a huge untapped resource for potential soldiers."

Last year's census figures report more than 225,000 people identified as Navajos. Most are found on or within a few hours drive of the Navajo homelands. Williams acknowledged that there are more opportunities for most young Navajos if they would set their sights on life beyond the reservation.

"Young people everywhere should be aware of the rest of the country and the world," she said. "I think the best thing for any person to do is go out and better yourself. Learn things. And then if you want to improve the place you came from, come home with the education and knowledge to do just that."

Other soldiers joined Williams, 6 from the 877th and two from the llth Armored Cavalry Regiment from Fort Irwin, Calif., and another former 82nd paratrooper at home on terminal leave. All but one of the soldiers is Navajo. Maj. Chris Lopez from the 90th Regional Support Command's (RSC) western retention office served as the officer in charge.

"This is a huge potential market for new soldiers," said Lopez. "This region is too remote for any of these people to drive south into Arizona to drill with reserve or National Guard units. Most are more than 4 to 5 hours away. The 90th RSC has units only a few hours away and may establish one less than an hour away from Window Rock. …

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