JEREZ DE LA FRONTENA, SPAIN --
Marines and sailors from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and the USS Mesa Verde volunteered their time to assist the Neusta Señora de la Defencion monastery on July 7, 2011.
The community relations project consisted of painting, removing plaster, cleaning up debris, and moving donated firewood. It provided much needed relief to the monastery and the opportunity for servicemembers to get their hands dirty for a good cause.
“It makes me feel good to do this,” said Lance Cpl. Iris Hoffman, a food service specialist with Combat Logistics Battalion 22, 22nd MEU. “Helps me better myself to explore other cultures.”
The work the Marines and sailors performed is part of an ongoing restoration project between the monastery and Naval Air Station Rota.
“There is a closeness between the servicemembers and the members of our church,” said Sister Sol Miriam, in charge of maintenance at the monastery. “Today, the servicemembers did three months of work in three hours.”
Neusta Señora de la Defencion, Spanish for Our Lady of The Defense, was built in the late 15th century. Its location is the site where the Spanish successfully battled invaders in 1398. The Spanish attribute the victory to a vision of the Virgin Mary.
The Marines and sailors of the 22nd MEU are currently deployed with Amphibious Squadron 6 aboard the USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group serving as a potent and formidable force who continues to train and improve their capability to operate as a cohesive and effective Marine Air Ground Task Force.
The 22nd MEU is a multi-mission, capable force, commanded by Col. Eric J. Steidl and comprised of an Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); a Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; a Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; and its Command Element.
Marine Expeditionary Units are the Marine Corps' smallest permanent Marine Air-Ground Task Force, and are comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines and sailors ready to provide immediate response to a hostile environment or crisis.