Photo Information

Children of Marines and sailors with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit enjoy an inflatable obstacle course with a slide during the 22nd MEU Family Day at W.P.T. Hill Field aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C. April 4, 2009. The MEU hosted the free event to get Marines, sailors and families together for an opportunity to socialize prior to deployment. The MEU is scheduled to deploy this spring. (Official Marine Photo by Cpl. Theodore W. Ritchie)

Photo by Cpl. Theodore W. Ritchie

Fun, family and friends; 22nd MEU hosts family day

4 Apr 2009 | Cpl. Justin M. Martinez

Camp Lejeune's W.P.T. Hill Field took on a carnival atmosphere with brightly colored inflatable jungle-gyms, aircraft and vehicle static displays April 4, 2009, all for the Marines and sailors of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and their families.

There were free activities for everyone who attended, including food, games and even music.

"The purpose of this family day is to get all the Marines and families together for an opportunity to socialize prior to going on deployment," said Lt. Col. Danny J. Verda, the Executive Officer of the 22nd MEU. "The families get a chance to get to know each other, and get acquainted with their military families here in the Camp Lejeune area."

MEUs typically hold separate family days for their subordinate elements, but the 22nd MEU held one event for all of the members of the command to build cohesiveness.

"The Commanding Officer has been very big the entire workup about being 'one team, one fight,'" said Verda. "It's very important to him that we have one family day because the MEU is one team, one unit, one family."

Master Sgt. Frank W. Buchanan, the communications chief for the MEU, said that in 21 years this is the largest family day he has ever seen.

"I think it's an awesome idea to do something like this," said Sandy Carrese. "We've never been with a unit that did something so big, it's a great idea."

While younger children were occupied with the different inflatable gyms such as rock climbing and a giant slide, older kids participated in pugal-stick and sumo-wrestling battles.

"This gives children all over the MEU a chance to play," said Buchanan. "The single marines are out here too, just having a good time watching the kids and beating each other up, it's a good time."

Marines and sailors were competing for the MEU Commander's Cup playing sports such as flag football, tug-o-war, and volleyball said Verda. The MEU commander, Col. Gareth F. Brandl, presented trophies to the four subordinate elements of the MEU.

The MEU's Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22 took home the top trophy after winning most of the sporting events.

The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit is a scalable, multipurpose force of more than 2,200 Marines and sailors. Commanded by Col. Gareth F. Brandl, it consists of its Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, CLB-22; and its Command Element.

The 22nd MEU is scheduled to deploy this spring. For more information on the 22nd MEU, visit the unit's Web site at

22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit