Amazon Warriors Gives Back – Turlock Journal

Amazon’s distribution facility in Turlock is not yet open for business, but that hasn’t stopped its team members from already making an impact in the community.

Nearly 50 Amazon employees from the Turlock and Fresno fulfillment centers volunteered their time Wednesday at the Castle Air Museum in Atwater.

Many of the volunteers were part of the Amazon Warriors, a group of veterans and spouses within Amazon.

Amazon employee Josh Payne, a former U.S. Army captain, hoses down a B-17 Flying Fortress (JOE CORTEZ/The Journal).

“The majority of our volunteers today, about 35 or so, are from Turlock,” said Craig Norris, general manager of the Turlock facility, known within the company as MCE 1. “At Amazon , we have what we call affinity groups, which are internal networking groups. The Warriors help other vets as they enter the business, and that fits well with this project.

Located on what was once Castle Air Force Base, the museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the base, which was closed in 1995, and the history of military aviation.

With approximately 25 acres of land and more than 80 aircraft on site, there is always plenty of cleanup work to be done by the nonprofit organization.

That’s where volunteers like the Warriors come in.

“We usually ask people to volunteer to help us,” said Joe Pruzzo, the museum’s executive director. “And every now and then a small group or an association will offer their services, but it’s one of the biggest groups we’ve had here.”

The Amazon group spent the morning pulling weeds, trimming bushes, raking flower beds and spraying the plane.

Amazon at the castle 3

Employees of the Amazon MCE 1 fulfillment center pose next to a B-52 Stratofortress as Amazon spokeswoman Nicole Banke takes photos (JOE CORTEZ/The Journal).

Josh Payne, who rose to the rank of captain after 11 years in the US Army, was on hand to help in any way he could.

“Actually,” Payne confessed as he hosed down a B-17 Flying Fortress, “I thought we were just here to pay a visit. But I’m happy to help.

After the work was completed, Pruzzo gave the volunteers a guided tour, which began with the B-24 Liberator, an aircraft that saw service in all theaters during World War II.

“It really was a world bomber for us in World War II,” Pruzzo said.

The B-24 needs about $50,000 to $60,000 of work to maintain its 1940s appearance. Amazon donated about half that amount with a check for $25,000.

“It’s amazing to work for a company that allows us to get involved in the local community and give back to local organizations,” Norris said. “Being from Atwater myself and having been to the museum all my life, it really meant a lot to me to have the opportunity to volunteer with my team and ask Amazon to donate $25,000 to the Castle Air Museum.”

Other highlights for the Warriors include visiting the B-58 Hustler – “a very tricky aircraft with a very high accident rate,” according to Pruzzo – and the RB-36 Peacemaker, a monster that weighs over 350 pounds. 000 pounds, has a wingspan nearly 80 meters wide and propellers that measure 19 feet in diameter.

“It took 11 wagons to get it to Castle,” Pruzzo said, “and two and a half years to put it back together.”

However, the star of the show was the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, an aircraft so fast it outrun a surface-to-air missile.

“He once flew over the state of Nebraska in 6 minutes,” Pruzzo said. “It was built in 1962 and it remains the fastest aircraft ever built…that we know of.”

The group ended their day with a look inside Air Force One – this particular version carried Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, every Vice President from Water Mondale to Dick Cheney, and every First Ladies from Rosalynn Carter to Laura Bush – and a visit to the restoration hangar to meet the veterans who do the work of preserving the plane.

“It was an honor to meet the veterans who restored these planes…for future generations,” Norris said.

The MCE 1 Distribution Center, located at 3200 Fulkerth Rd. in Turlock, will open later in 2022.

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