ABOARD USS KEARSARGE --
During a recent port call, a troop of seven 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) Marines - and one civilian - stormed the aisles of a Middle Eastern Christian church to deck its halls with boughs of holly – fa, la, la, la, la. The Marines and former-Marine gunnery sergeant, Mr. Delroy D. Tingley, sacrificed a day of liberty to fill a church with Christmas spirit and prepare care packages for the local community’s less fortunate.
“This event finally made it feel like the Christmas season,” said Tingley, the MEU’s tactical safety specialist and a Mary Esther, Fl., native. “Cpl Kyle Mullinax and I were even singing Christmas carols as we wrapped. I really didn’t think I was going to wrap any presents this year, but I ended up wrapping more boxes in one day than I think I have my entire life.”
The lively Leathernecks wrapped shoeboxes packed with stuff like razors, pens, candy, and phone cards that the church would give to foreign construction workers in local labor camps as part of the its shoebox ministry, said Tingley.
“I wanted to help the local Christian ministry have a positive influence in the multicultural setting,” said Tingley. “It was a good feeling to see all the boxes that were wrapped at the end of the day and know that they will be truly appreciated by those who would receive them.”
While Tingley and Mullinax wrapped hundreds of shoeboxes, Sergeants Keith D. Widaman and Andres N. Martinez-Alegria took a 40-foot ladder to the church’s vaulted ceilings and hung holiday decor.
“It was a good opportunity to come together in the spirit of Christmas with multi-cultural Christians in a Muslim nation,” said Widaman, a Flint Hill, Mo., native.
Not only did Martinez join in the project because he was in the spirit of the season, but also because he felt that helping others is part of the job of being a Marine, he said.
“I feel that helping others and promoting the goodwill of the US is a job of every Marine, so it really wasn’t a big deal to give up a day off in a fun city to do a little bit of extra work,” said Martinez.
The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) is currently serving as the theater reserve force in Central Command’s area of responsibility and is deployed aboard the ships of the Kearsarge Strike Group.
The 22nd MEU (SOC) consists of its Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment; Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; and its Command Element. To learn more about the unit and see more photos of its many community relations projects, visit the unit’s Web site atwww.22meu.usmc.mil.