Pizza Hut Franchisee Takes to the Air to Deliver Pizza And Wings To Marines On Catalina Island

Franchisee American West Restaurant Group (AWRG) made a rare special delivery a little outside of their regular delivery area. It started at the Pizza Hut restaurant located in Newport Beach, California, and was completed over 26 miles away.

Shannon St. Clair, franchise growth leader, Pizza Hut U.S., received a request from Joshua Marquiz, USAF Firefighter/Intel retired 2019. He volunteers with the Thank God It’s Friday (TGIF) Pilots to deliver equipment, mail and other necessities to the 47 Marines stationed on Catalina Island, the Marine Wing Support Squadron 373 (MWSS-373) based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. He asked if Pizza Hut could provide pizza to the Marines to give them a break from military field rations, known as MRE or meals ready to eat.

Catalina Island Airport Hanger

It took some coordination

A delivery driver brought the donation of 23 large pizzas and 200 wings to John Wayne Airport-Orange County. From there, pilot Marquiz flew AWRG’s chief people officer, Gene Erdman, and the food on a small Cessna plane 26 miles to the island. When they landed, a vehicle was waiting to drive them to the location where lunch would be served to hungry Marines.

Catalina Airport runway

Giving back

Erdman shared, “What an experience, it was very cool. The Marines were very appreciative, and they all commented on how hot the pizzas were!” The Marines had been working 12–14-hour days for the past two months repairing roads and the airport runway and eating only MREs. One of the Marines commented, “The pizza and wings were a surprise and a great change of pace for us, and we ate it all!” Erdman received a “commander’s coin” from the First Lieutenant on behalf of the Lieutenant Colonel. Giving someone a commander’s coin is a tangible way that senior leadership shows their appreciation for a job well done.

AWRG Chief Operating Officer Jamie Nelson, reflected, “It is special to support our military troops and give back to them for everything they do for us. Nothing feels better than giving back! We love helping others, and it’s a key ingredient of the culture here at AWRG. Giving back is easy; all it takes is effort and the passion of wanting to give back!”

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