Army & Air Force Exchange Service Celebrates Grand Opening of $15.7 Million Express at Fort Irwin

Photo By Travis Day | Fort Irwin cut the ribbon on a new $15.7 million, 14,000 square-foot Express on May 29, bringing new food options, services and more to one convenient location. Learn more: https://wp.me/p9Q7PG-2H0.

FORT IRWIN, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES

05.30.2024

Story by Travis Day 

Army & Air Force Exchange Service HQ  

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FORT IRWIN – The Army & Air Force Exchange Service celebrated the opening of the $15.7 million 24-hour Mojave Express at Fort Irwin on May 29, marking a significant Quality-of-Life improvement for the remote California Army installation.

The 14,000-square-foot convenience store includes a Hunt Brothers Pizza and Chopz quick-serve restaurants; a food truck plaza; and 20-pump gas station. Outdoor seating with cooling misters and propane service are also available.

The facility replaces two Express stores and a standalone Class Six, bringing a new level of convenience to the Fort Irwin community under one roof with new food options and services.

The ribbon-cutting was attended by Maj. Gen. Curtis Taylor, Fort Irwin commanding general; Command Sgt. Maj. Carvet Tate; Col. Lane Bomar, Fort Irwin garrison commander; Command Sgt. Maj. David Palmer; Ronny James, deputy to the garrison commander; Marla Randolph, Exchange chief operating officer; Ronny Rexrode, Exchange Western Region senior vice president; Robert Rice, Exchange West Coast Region vice president; and Ladda Thomas, Fort Irwin Exchange general manager.

Vendor partners, including Celsius, Frito-Lay, Hershey’s and Monster Energy also joined the festivities, offering tastings, giveaways and entertainment to those at the new location.

“We have all been waiting a long time for this facility,” Taylor said. “The important message for everyone to remember is that the Exchange is here with us, and the Exchange goes where you go.

“We are preparing for the first battle of the next war here at Fort Irwin, and the fact that the Exchange continues to be with us, even when it’s hard, is a testament to their commitment. When the Exchange says ‘We Go Where You Go,’ they absolutely mean that and live that.”

Taylor’s and his family’s connection to the Fort Irwin Exchange goes back nearly four decades. In 1986, Taylor’s first job was at the post’s 24-hour shoppette while his father, then commanding general himself, broke ground on the main PX in 1987.

The Express will employ nearly 70 people, more than half of whom are spouses or dependents of Fort Irwin service members.

The project broke ground at the end of 2021, supporting the Army’s initiative to improve Quality-of-Life at its Big Four installations, which include Forts Cavazos, Irwin, Johnson and Wainwright. These posts are targeted for upgrades as locations that are either remote, austere or facing Quality-of-Life challenges.

“We are so thrilled to finally see this special project to completion,” Thomas said. “The Fort Irwin community deserves the best, and I can’t thank garrison leadership enough for helping the Exchange deliver it to our Soldiers and their families.

“We are privileged to do our part in improving the Quality of Life for the best customers in the world here at Fort Irwin.”

Fort Irwin is one of the Army’s most isolated installations in the U.S., located in the Mojave Desert nearly 40 miles from the nearest highway and roughly halfway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

“This is definitely a lot bigger and nicer than the older Expresses we had,” said Staff Sgt. Juan Lepe, who has been assigned to at Fort Irwin for about one year. “I like that you can get everything you need here, and it adds a lot more variety than what we had before.

“The Hunt Brothers Pizza is my favorite addition, it will be great to just stop by here during lunch time if the main food court is very busy. It definitely adds a ton of convenience.”

The project was funded with $15.1 million from the Exchange and $600,000 from a companion project’s appropriated funds from the Army.

100% of Exchange earnings support military communities. In the last 10 years, the Exchange has contributed $3.7 billion to Child, Youth and School Services; Armed Forces Recreation Centers; and other critical Quality-of-Life programs.

The Mojave Express is at Building 973, Inner Loop Road, conveniently located across from other post facilities including the main Exchange, Burger King, Popeyes and commissary.

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