MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Hundreds of family members of deployed Combat Center Marines and Sailors attended an Operation Enduring Families luau and pool party June 3 at the Family Pool.
The Marine Corps Community Services-sponsored event, which was open specifically to spouses and children of deployed service members, spanned two hours and supported those families “in the rear” in a fun and welcoming atmosphere, said Lori Rogers, a key volunteer coordinator and one of the lead organizers.
“We had over 240 people there including the kids and family members Saturday,” Rogers said. “I think the last luau and pool party we had here was a couple of years ago, but it was a base-wide event. This was specifically for spouses and families of deployed Marines.
“I think it went really well. We’ve had some very positive feedback already,” she added. “Everyone said they loved it so far.”
Rogers said families from every unit deployed aboard the Combat Center were present, including 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment; 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion; Combat Logistics Battalion 7; 7th Marine Regiment Headquarters Company; Marine Wing Support Squadron 374; Marine Unmanned Vehicle Squadron 1 and 1st Tank Battalion.
Patrons were treated to a free barbecue lunch as well as free refreshments to beat the 104 degree heat. Umbrellas, leis and tropically-themed trinkets adorned tables to add to the atmosphere. Many family members said just having a place to come together with other families in their shoes was a great experience.
“The fact that we could come together today with all these people who are in the same situation we are in was wonderful,” said Stefanie Flaishans, whose husband is currently deployed with MWSS-374. “I think sometimes people get so concerned about our guys over there that they forget about the kids and families in the rear.
“We’re having a ball and it looks like everyone is having a lot of fun,” she continued. Flaishans brought her four children to the event. “I’d like to see more of these done for the families.”
Throughout the luau, a raffle was held for various prizes donated by MCCS including theme park tickets, purses, a digital camera and an MP3 player.
Kids also played at the pool during a number of games for them both in and out of the water at the main pool and the wading pool for kids of any age.
“The kids really had a blast,” said Rogers. “The games we had were a big success. They also loved the popcorn and snow cones we had.”
Near the end of the event, Lt. Col. Roger B. Turner, commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, spoke to spouses and thanked them for their efforts and sacrifices.
“I’d like to thank everybody for coming today and thank you for all of your sacrifice and support to your Marines who are forward,” Turner said to the families. “It’s really meaningful and provides a huge relief when you have that family support from back home.”
Rogers said more OEF events are planned this year to bring families together in similar ways.
“I was glad that everyone came,” she said. “All the different units and everyone going through the same thing were there together. I think the best thing is it brought those families together so they could see they are not by themselves.”