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Marine Forces Special Operations Command

Photo by Sgt. Matt Epright

22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) and USS Kearsarge host to Maltese visitors

17 Aug 2007 | Sgt. Matt Epright

The Marines and sailors of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) and USS Kearsarge hosted to several local tour groups aboard the ship during a recent port visit to Malta.

Throughout the day, Marines and sailors stood by displays of their vehicles, weapons and equipment in order to tell local Maltese citizens about their jobs in the military.

One of the tour groups was made up of boys and girls from St. Paul's Bay Primary School who came for a field trip from their summer classes. It was their first time seeing the military hardware on display.

Collette, one of the junior teachers at the school and tasked with summer school duties, said that some of the high-energy children can be a handful sometimes, but the ship visit gave them a chance to focus their excitement on a positive learning experience.

"They are enjoying it,"she said. "Especially the boys."

One of the more popular stops on the tour was manned by Marines from both India and Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.

The spread featured a cross-section of the weapons and gear that BLT 3/8 Marines use in their role as the 22nd MEU(SOC)'s Ground Combat Element.

"People get to come in and see actually how we get to work,"said Weapons Company infantryman Cpl. Keith Smith.

The individual Marines working with the tour groups were handpicked by their leaders for their knowledge of the gear, plus their outgoing manner and ability to relate well to civilian visitors.

"We want them to be enthusiastic, to reach out to these people who have never seen these weapons or handled them,"said BLT 3/8's Headquarters and Service Company First Sergeant, 1st Sgt. Ronald Jenks.

Another of the groups that came during the day consisted of two scouting groups from different countries meeting together in Malta.

The local Maltese Qrendi Scout Group has seen several American naval vessels when they have come into ports over the years, but their visitors, the Nebil Scout Group from Tunisia, have never had such an opportunity.

"Tunisia's security is so high, they've never even seen a ship let alone come aboard, so for them, this is a very special occasion,"said Qrendi Scout Group leader David Schembri. "The fact that they've even been allowed to touch the armaments; this has been an added bonus for them."

Later in the evening, the officers of the Kearsarge and the 22nd MEU(SOC) welcomed a group of young entrepreneurs and diplomatic students from a local college-level foreign relations school with a tour of the ship and a reception in the ship's Ward Room.

Each of the tour groups was welcomed with open arms and hopefully will spread news of the welcome they received from the Marines and sailors of the 22nd MEU(SOC) and the Kearsarge, said one tour leader.

"Public relations are not what you see in the papers, what you see on television, but what you actually touch,"said Schembri as he watched his young scouts interact with the Marines. "You can get nothing better than good public relations by educating the young children, because they will grow to appreciate what things actually are rather than reading them on the news."

22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit