MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Fun, food and family was the name of the game as more than 200 Marines, Sailors and their families gathered for the Headquarters Company’s, 7th Marine Regiment, family night Dec. 15 at Victory Field.
The carnival-like atmosphere was not only meant as a social gathering for service members and their spouses, but also a night to entertain children of all ages with various activities and displays.
“Today was about the families and getting them out here and to honor the sacrifices that they make, as well as those of our Marines and Sailors,” said Sgt. Maj. Jimmy D. Mashburn, regimental sergeant major. “This also gives everyone the opportunity to see the Marines in a different light. Marines can see their senior leadership and their junior leadership with their children and families, and I think that is important to see that side.”
The field was a bustle of activity through most of the night, and children played on a multitude of attractions including an inflatable obstacle course, playing football or getting photos taken with Santa.
A raffle drawing with various prizes for on- and off-base actives was also held for guests, as well as booths offering information on base services.
A static display of vehicles such as an M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank, a M777 lightweight howitzer, an amphibious assault vehicle, seven-ton trucks and Humvees were also on hand.
“We had the entire base support this event extremely well,” said Mashburn. “Artillery, tanks, AAVs as well as the base itself all helped out, so we’re happy for all of the support today.”
For one of the bright, young faces in the crowd, the evening’s events were exciting and memorable.
“This was really cool,” said Cody Justice, 9, whose parents and four siblings accompanied him. “We got prizes and there were tanks and things we could go inside of. There was stuff for kids and grownups, too. I liked it all.”
Families were also invited to enjoy a complementary meal of grilled hamburgers and hot dogs as well as cookies and hot chocolate.
“I think this is great,” said Cpl. Jason C. Evans, who’s wife and three children joined him for the festivities. “This is really for the kids, and they all had a lot of fun. It’s also a good chance for spouses as military members to meet other spouses. I think we should do gatherings like this more frequently.”
Events such as this really bring the unit closer together and does not require enormous effort to put on, said Mashburn.
“A lot of times we look at things and we say that we just don’t have the time to do it,” Mashburn said. “I don’t think we see enough family days. This is actually something that the Marines really wanted to put together, and they did it well. All the kids seem to be having fun with everything and right on down the line.”
As the evening drew to a close, the smiles on the faces of children let everyone know the event was a complete success.
“It does not take a lot of initiative to get something like this going and to find the time to do it,” said Mashburn. “That is something that I would tell any organization, is that it’s important to find the time and to honor our families.”