CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Two friends, who served together during the Gulf War, reunited for a day of training with the Southeast County Young Marines at Camp Pendleton, Calif., July 19.
Col. Pete Baumgarten, the commanding officer of 1st Marine Regiment, and Col. Sean M. Magee, the deputy chief of staff plans for Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, served together as lieutenants 23 years ago.
The Young Marines is an education and service program for youth and teens beginning from age eight through the completion of high school. The program promotes physical, mental and moral development of its members.
Magee, and his father, Sgt. Maj. Michael D. Magee (ret.), are program volunteers. Col. Magee received a request to arrange an authentic Marine Corps training experience on a military base. Magee called up his old friend, Baumgarten, and asked for the favor. The two colonels coordinated a day of marksmanship training for the Young Marines.
“It was good seeing him again,” Magee said. “It was as if that time had never passed. I think it’s awesome that we came together to do something good for the community and the young people of this country.”
The Young Marines arrived by shuttle and formed up on the road. They were marched in by a student into the training area. Col. Magee’s eight-year-old son, who might have an advantage with all the Marine Corps experience in his family, is a private in the Young Marines.
“I’m going to cherish those memories forever, and I think they’ll have a lasting impact on my son as well to have his grandfather helping him put on his cammies for the first time,” Col. Magee said. “It was great to work with my dad.”
Marksmanship instructors briefed the young participants on safety with various weapons. The kids were given the opportunity to shoot simulated rounds for the M240B machine gun, the M16A4 service rifle and the Baretta M9 service pistol.
“It’s a good thing to be able to train the youth on these weapon systems in a safe way,” said Sgt. Russell Steine, an MTU instructor. “Seeing these younger generations come through, getting familiar with the weapon systems and customs and courtesies is a great thing. I think it’s important for the younger generation to be involved with youth programs.”
After lunch the Young Marines presented Baumgarten with a gift in appreciation for allowing them to use their marksmanship facilities.
“It was a great experience for us to come together again and we’re already talking about the next steps where we can continue to engage the Young Marines and other community service organizations together,” Baumgarten said.