CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Grease, noise, heavy machinery and an audience to entertain is exactly what they wanted.
Second Maintenance Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group unlocked the doors to its facilities and invited their friends and families to explore their day-to-day world during an open house here, Sept 19.
The event helped break through the challenges the battalion’s six companies face.
“The bonding is unique to the 2nd MLG, where we take Marines from all the different units and [send them on] deployments,” said Gary Scalzo, the battalion’s family readiness officer. “There’s not continuity. When we have events such as this, we get to have all the families come back and see each other. We have more than 1,300 Marines and 800 family members. They get to see each other, and they remember the last time they deployed together or met at events.”
The unit held its open house after the peak season for receiving new Marines, added Scalzo. This allows Marines and families who are new to the unit to see what the other companies do and meet their peers.
Each of the companies organized their own displays, which ranged from vehicle and equipment demonstrations to a battalion-wide chili cook-off. Sgt. Benjamin Nickerson, a precision weapons technician with the unit, claimed the title of “Chili King” by beating out eight other contestants during a day of spicy competition.
The battalion commander also pushed the sense of rivalry by challenging the companies to outperform one another and inviting family members to vote on their favorite display.
“It’s amazing to see the Marines come together and support the desired end state,” said Scalzo, who helped organize the event and encouraged the voting process. “The way they are successful in doing this is by making it a challenge. You can see the companies get excited about it. Just a friendly rivalry makes the task at hand go very easily. They really enjoy it.”
The winning company, Motor Transport Maintenance Company, will receive an “Aloha Friday” from the battalion commander, which allows them to work a half day and join their loved ones for an afternoon off work.
“It’s been great, and they had a blast,” said Staff Sgt. Jose Gonzalez, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialist with the battalion, who brought his son and daughter to the event. “I’m proud to get to show them what we do here. They get to see where I work, and now they know where I’m at. It helps out on those days where I’m working long hours.”
Attendees were able to ride in some of the battalion’s vehicles and operate some of the heavy-lifting equipment used for maintenance. A few of the more adventurous participants even jumped into one the unit’s zodiac boats and attempted to maneuver the craft in a man-made pool set up by the battalion’s personnel.
“It’s good for the kids,” said Lance Cpl. Ronald Everitt, a heavy equipment and small craft mechanic with the battalion, who helped children run a hoist used to lift vehicles for maintenance purposes. “It’s certainly not like the normal turning and burning we do. It’s refreshing.”
The open house also acted as an opportunity to introduce the participants to some of the benefits available to them at Camp Lejeune.
Professionals from support services such as Resilience Education, Marine Corps Family Team Building, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, the American Red Cross and the Single Marine Program set up booths to provide information to the families and Marines in order to help them maximize the benefits of their services.
The USO also joined the festivities and provided freshly grilled food as the families and unit personnel mingled in the battalion’s courtyard.
“The families do very well in keeping in contact with each other and lifting each others’ spirits,” said Scalzo. “One Marine may be deployed while another is back here, and they continue to work with each other to support their military lifestyles.”
Scalzo also said that more cohesion-building activities are scheduled for the future, but first the battalion’s personnel need to tackle the job of cleaning up from the day’s activities, drain the pools of water in the central courtyard and return to their daily duties.