Customers loaded their carts during on-site commissary sale at the West Virginia Air National Guard

July 09, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |
  • Betty Englehart and her husband, retired Marine Master Sgt. Jesse Englehart, were among the many people who took advantage of bargain prices Saturday at an on-site commissary sale at the West Virginia Air National Guards 167th Airlift Wing.
By Richard F. Belisle

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Area military personnel, active and retired, including National Guard members and their dependents, are enjoying bargain prices this weekend shopping for groceries and big-screen televisions at an on-site commissary sale at the West Virginia Air National Guard 167th Airlift Wing.

Among the long lines of customers Saturday were retired Marine Master Sgt. Jesse Englehart, a Korean War veteran, and his wife, Betty Englehart, of Smithsburg.

"We try to shop at the commissary at Fort Detrick as much as we can," Betty Englehart said.

The couple said they travel four months a year in their RV and shop at base commissaries whenever possible.

On Saturday, airlift wing's cavernous C-5 aircraft hangar was lined row upon row with the kind of inventory seen in many grocery and big-box stores.

Commissary patrons were buying fresh meats and fruits, staples, paper goods, household cleaning and personal care items, canned goods and snacks.

At the PX, or Exchange Service as it is now called, families were picking up big-screen televisions, clothes, cameras and other electronics, household goods and school supplies.

The PX was brought to Martinsburg this year for the first time.

Customers pushed loaded carts to their vehicles on the tarmack outside the hangar.

Items are sold at cost, said Mary Williams, general manager of eight commissaries in three states and the District of Columbia.

Discounts average 15 percent to 30 percent. Purchases are not taxed, but the National Guard charges a 5 percent surcharge. The proceeds go back into the system, Williams said.

The inventory is brought to the base by the Andrews Air Force Base Commissary in Clinton, Md., and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service in Washington, D.C., said Chief Master Sgt. John Alderton, organizer of the Martinsburg event.

The on-site commissary has been held twice a year since 2009, Alderton said. The 167th Airlift Wing and the adjacent 157th Military Police Co., West Virginia Army National Guard, take turns, Alderton said.

"We wanted to bring this type of sale to West Virginia for our National Guard members, their families and retirees," Alderton said.

It takes about 40 members from both units two days to unload the trucks and set up the event, Alderton said.

Last year, more than 900 customers passed through the checkout lines, Alderton said.

"We've surpassed that already today," Williams said.

Retired Army Reservist Mike Gamble, 61, and his wife, Rebecca, of Martinsburg, were in line with a full grocery cart.

"You can get significant savings here, especially on things like cereal and cleaning supplies," Rebecca Gamble said. "It's worth you time to shop here."

The Herald-Mail Articles