Photo Information

News default image.

Photo by MCB

Marines complete 2nd annual Gatorpalooza

30 Aug 2012 | LCpl Joseph Scanlan

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - After numerous training exercises in the field throughout the week, Marines with 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion competed in the 2nd annual Gatorpalooza here, Aug. 23.

Gatorpalooza is a weeklong field training exercise where different companies in 3rd AABn. compete, challenge and train Marines in 14 events including pistol marksmanship, rifle marksmanship, land navigation, and medical knowledge.

“This year the Marines had a better idea of what to expect,” said 1st Lt. Nishan Campbell, operations officer with 3rd AABn. “They were a little more prepared this year. They got a lot of good training and didn’t even know it because they were having such a good time.”

The mission of Gatorpalooza was to focus on enhancing key military occupational specialty skills, core competencies and physical fitness in order to exercise small unit leadership, unit cohesion and enhance the “warrior spirit.”

“I wanted to engage the backbone of our leadership,” said Lt. Col. Howard Hall, commanding officer of 3rd AABn. “The non-commissioned officers are the front line of defense against misconduct and they are the backbone of leadership in the Marine Corps. “Not only was the idea of Gatorpalooza developed by the NCOs, but each of the competitions was developed by them too.”

Each of the events at Gatorpalooza was led by NCOs and gave them many opportunities to apply their small unit leadership.

“This event creates a unique opportunity for our young NCOs to take charge of an event and brief field grade officers on their plan and execute it in the field,” said Campbell, a 29-year-old Phoenix, Ariz. native. “An event like this gives the chance for even a corporal, who may just be a crew chief, to lead a small unit.”

The NCOs from the different companies shared their knowledge with their Marines and led them to completing every event in Gatorpalooza. Some of the junior Marines who are new to their companies were able to experience small unit leadership for the first time.

“I like the small unit leadership a lot,” said Lance Cpl. Nicholas Beurmann, an amphibious assault vehicle crewman in Bravo Company. “We have tough leaders, but they definitely pass their knowledge around very well.

“I found some skills that I need to work on, and I found some skills that I can help my fellow Marines out with.”

3rd Tracks often deploys as companies and not as a battalion, which could make it hard to have a sense of unit identity and pride while the companies are split up.

“Very rarely will we have all of the companies out in the field at the same time,” said Hall. “We’re fighting against each other out in the training areas during the day, but in the end we’re all a band of brothers. An event like this for us builds a lot of camaraderie between the Marines.”

This year, Charlie Company won Gatorpalooza and took the 3rd Tracks’ Commander’s Cup from Alpha Co.

“Gatorpalooza was a huge hit this year,” Campbell said. “It is an event in our battalion that is still in its infancy. We plan to continue this event biannually for many years to come.”