BOSS opens mini-commissary on Suwon Air Base
July 25, 2011
SUWON AIR BASE, South Korea - Imagine riding a bus for an hour and then having to walk two more miles just to make the weekly grocery run.
This was a dread shared by Soldiers stationed at Suwon Air Base for many years until the Suwon Better Opportunity for Single Soldiers Team recently discovered an ingenious solution.
“If it is such a hassle to bring Soldiers to the nearest commissary, which is located more than 30 miles away, why not bring the commissary to the Soldiers?” Spc. Kevin Gonzalez, president of Suwon BOSS team, asked rhetorically to his council.
The solution that the Suwon BOSS team proposed was to set up a permanent “mini-commissary” right here at Suwon Air Base, so that Soldiers at Suwon Air Base can readily access an ample selection of food and other goods at the competitive price one would normally find at the local commissary.
“One of the most important functions of the BOSS council is to address issues concerning quality of life of Soldiers,” Gonzalez said, “And year after year, on the top of that list is the lack of commissary at Suwon Air Base.”
Gonzalez added, “Soldiers are just tired of spending so much money on bus or taxi rides to Osan Air Base Commissary … it came to a point that the trip is no longer worth it.”
Once the council agreed upon the solution, the Suwon BOSS team quickly began to do what they do the best - rally the community to improve Soldier’s welfare.
With the fervent support of the Osan Air Base Commissary and the Soldiers and leaders and families of 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery, the dream of Suwon’s very own Commissary finally turned into a reality earlier this year.
Since then, the Soldiers of 6-52nd Air Defense Artillery Battalion never looked back.
“At first, we [Suwon BOSS] were only able to persuade Osan Commissary to host monthly case lot sales at Suwon, during which the commissary personnel will bring over popular goods and merchandize and set up a temporary shop inside the Suwon Community Activity Center,” Gonzalez said.
But the Suwon Soldiers were not satisfied. After all, there were only so many products one could transport on the back of a truck.
Hence, when the opportunity arose that one of the battalion buildings recently became vacant, BOSS seized the chance to set up a “permanent” commissary.
“We jumped at the opportunity [the empty building available] and immediately began negotiating with Osan Commissary Management to set up a permanent shop here,” Gonzalez recalled.
Just like every other project initiated by BOSS, the Suwon Commissary project was for the Soldiers and run by the Soldiers.
In the end, BOSS offered full support for the project. Soldiers volunteered to unload the merchandize, clean the building, stock the goods and even line up the price tags.
Kim Ae-Ran, assistant Osan Commissary Officer and Suwon Commissary Manager, could not be happier.
“I love working with Soldiers at Suwon,” said the Osan, South Korea native, “and we are always overwhelmed with the support the Soldiers have shown to us every time we come here.”
Kim, who has worked for the Osan Commissary for almost three years, makes that trip to Suwon twice a month.
“Suwon commissary really made a difference in our lives,” said Spc. Kevin Wise of Headquarters Battery, 6-52nd Air Defense Artillery and a frequent shopper of Suwon commissary. “Gone were the days when I had to carry 30 - 40 pounds of grocery back and forth and pay expensive cab fare.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Winzenried, command sergeant major for United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forcces Korea, recently met with the Suwon BOSS team to discuss Soldier’s quality of life issues.
Unsurprisingly, Gonzalez and his team immediately took Winzenried on a tour of their pride and joy " the Suwon mini-commissary.
Gonzalez could not hide his excitement, as he briefed South Korea’s top U.S. noncommissioned officer on the success of the project.
After the visit, Winzenried remarked, “It is an amazing thing that [the Suwon BOSS team] is doing to improve the quality of life for their fellow Soldiers.”
There is one more reason why Suwon Commissary is attracting more and more customers every day, according to Gonzalez.
“Soldiers can order what products they want to see more often in their neighborhood friendly grocery store,” said Gonzalez with a smile. “Now, we are really talking about a store 'for' the Soldier.”