MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Friends and family members of the Marines and Sailors of 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, gathered for the unit’s Family Day at the Combat Center’s Victory Field Feb. 17.
The unit recently finished months of training in preparation for a scheduled deployment next month in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“This marks the end of our field training before our next deployment,” said Staff Sgt. Phillip N. Johnson, 1/7 battalion mess chief, Headquarters and Service Company.
“This is about getting the battalion together as a whole before we start other deployments preparations.”
There were volleyball, basketball and tug-o-war tournaments between the unit’s four companies throughout the day.
Marine Corps Community Services provided an inflatable obstacle course and a Jupiter Jump for the children, and jousting for adults.
Food was provided by Marine Corps food services and included barbecue chicken, ribs, hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, macaroni salad and condiments.
Cpl. Aaron Henehan, rifleman, Bravo Co., 1/7, stood in the long line to get some barbecue chicken and ribs.
“Good food always brings people together,” said the 22-year-old native of Anchorage, Alaska. “This is a good chance for the families to get acquainted with the command who will be leading their husbands, sons, and so on, on their deployment, to build trust.”
To get the families prepared for the unit’s deployment, family readiness programs such as the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, the American Red Cross, Lifestyles, Insight, Networking, Knowledge, Skills (L.I.N.K.S.) and the 1/7-battalion chaplain were available to meet with the families and provide information on their services.
“This is a good opportunity to get all our information out at once and make connections,” said Lori Rogers, 1/7 Key Volunteer Network coordinator, and wife of Staff Sgt. Jerry Rogers, who has deployed six times during his 10 years of service.
“We like to let people know we are here to try to make things easier,” she continued.
The 1/7 chaplain, Lt. Richard A. Townes, who is scheduled to deploy with the unit, attended the family day to meet and greet the families.
“The importance of a gathering like this is to let families know they are not alone,” said Townes. “It makes it more bearable to have contacts with other families while a family member is deployed.”
The coming deployment was the last thing on minds while everyone enjoyed free food and activities, said Lance Cpl. Danny Grimaldi, a 20-year-old native of Garland, Texas.
“It’s a morale boost,” he explained. “Everyone’s enjoying the free stuff with their families.”
During the day’s festivities, there was a surprise visit from the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Michael W. Hagee.
Pfc. Luke Doty, a 19-year-old native of Albuquerque, N.M., got his picture taken with Hagee.
“That was awesome,” said Doty, walking away looking down at his digital camera.