GULF OF ADEN --
Marines and Sailors aboard dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) recently celebrated the midpoint of their current deployment.
The midpoint or “halfway day” was highlighted by a “steel beach picnic”, which featured games, events and food meant to boost the morale of Marines and Sailors currently deployed aboard Whidbey Island.
Damage control (DC) olympics, an egg balancing contest and a 3-on-3 basketball tournament were just a few of the events the Marines and Sailors participated in as part of the celebration.
“I thought it was fun,” said Lance Cpl. Donald W. Smith, a rifleman with Echo Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), and Billings, Mont., native who participated in the DC olympics.
The DC olympics pitted teams of 5 to 8 people against each other in their abilities to perform DC tasks such as, donning firefighting gear, using fire hoses and removing smoke from shipboard spaces.
“It’s not everyday you get to do cross-training with the Navy. Yeah, they’re games, but you have to think about it as down and dirty training,” Smith added.
The day’s events were organized by junior officers from the Marine Corps and Navy.
“I enjoyed putting this together,” said 1st Lt. Wesley S. Jagoe, a platoon commander with Echo Company, and Orlando, Fla., native who serves as the Marine morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) representative aboard Whidbey Island. “It breaks up the everyday monotony of ship life and it brings the ship together because we start competing against each other.”
The steel beach picnic wasn’t the only reason morale was raised. The name, “halfway day,” suggests that the Marines and Sailors are on the downward slope of the deployment. “This should raise morale as well,” Jagoe added.
“I enjoyed the halfway day,” said Smith. “It put some spice into the deployment.”
The 22nd MEU is currently deployed as part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (BATARG) as the U.S. Central Command theater reserve force, also providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.