MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group Family Readiness Office held its Summer Family Festival at the Camp Del Mar beach on Saturday, June 6. Nearly 450 Marines and their family members attended the event that offered free food, music, entertainment for the kids and a chance to mingle.
The goal of family day was to set aside an afternoon for the group’s families to spend time together and get to know each other, said Wayne Bell, the I MHG Family Readiness Officer.
“It allows all of the family members to get together to introduce themselves to each other and get to know each other, so they can continue to mutually support each other when MEF headquarters deploys,” said Lt. Gen. Samuel T. Helland, the commanding general of I MEF. “It’s great to see everybody out enjoying themselves on a wonderful day and enjoying each other.”
Bell, a retired sergeant major with 30 years of service, added that the event served as a perfect opportunity for the commanding officer to thank the Marines’ families for the continual support they provide.
“It’s an opportunity to just kind of unwind, but also to get the whole family involved at the unit,” said Col. Lori E. Reynolds, the commanding officer of I MHG. “I really believe strongly that you have to know what’s going on at home to really understand your Marines.”
Not only was the event aimed at boosting the morale of the Marines, but also to bolster support from their families.
“It helps the families understand what their Marines actually do, and I think it also prepares them mentally for the potential of separation here in the future with the deployment cycle,” said Bell. “If a Marine’s family is ready, then that Marine is going to be more ready to deploy and accomplish his mission.”
Emphasis was also placed on ensuring Marines’ children had a fun time at the family day as well. Children were able to enjoy pony rides, a petting zoo, a paintball park, a magic show and face painting during family day.
“If the children are happy and had a good day, then I call that a success. And more importantly, they had each other,” said Bell. “The kids got to see other military children, so they know they’re not in this thing by themselves.”
I MHG Marines and their families can look forward to future gatherings held by the FRO including another family festival and a Christmas party.