Photo Information

A caterer serves barbeque to Marines and Sailors of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit at a warriors' night at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., July 15, 2006. The event was held to promote espirit de corps among the MEU's different elements, who have been training at Fort A.P. Hill since July 6 as part of a rigorous six-month pre-deployment training program.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Patrick M. Johnson-Campbell

26th MEU warriors enjoy evening of food, fun and fellowship

16 Jul 2006 | Lance Cpl. Jeremy T. Ross

Marines and sailors from Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Bn., 2nd Marine Regiment; Combat Logistics Bn. - 26 and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-264 (Reinforced) took a break from training for a warriors' night here July 15.

A warriors' night is a ceremonial dinner similar to a mess night, steeped in tradition and heavy in rules of etiquette and rigid protocols.

Overseeing the proceedings was the tribal council, comprised of the commanding officers and sergeants major of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit's command, ground, aviation and logistics elements.

Lieutenant Col. Christopher C. Starling, commanding officer of BLT 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines, served as the president of the tribal council.

Other than the tribal council, the most important figure in the proceedings was the vice-president, or "Mr. Vice," Gunnery Sgt. Henning V. Landa, Combat Logistics Bn. - 26 logistics chief.

In order to do anything, from using the restroom to refilling a glass, the warriors had to stand on their chair and yell at the top of their lungs:  "Mr. Vice, (rank and last name) requests permission to speak to Mr. Vice."

After receiving permission to speak from Landa, the Marine or sailor could then ask to carry out whatever they needed.

The troops could also seek permission from the vice to speak to the tribal council, usually to inform them that one of their fellow Marines or Sailors wished to entertain for the jovial crowd.

Individuals were routinely called out in this manner, to sing, dance and even perform squad rushes across the parking lot where the event was held.

The menu for the evening featured barbequed meats, baked beans, coleslaw and brownies.

"I thought the whole thing was pretty funny," said Pfc. Pedro Chavez-Merino, an administration clerk with BLT 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines, and a King City, Calif., native.

"The best part was watching all the people standing on chairs yelling at the top of their lungs to the vice," he continued.

The pinnacle of the evening's festivities was a series of solemn toasts to the friends of the Marine Corps and to the Corps itself.

Giving the Marines and sailors from the MEU a chance to break from the rigorous training they have been undertaking every day since arriving here July 6 was the intent of the warrior's night, said Starling.

"So far, I've been impressed with how the Marines have trained here," he said. "They have consistently shown excellent levels of motivation and enthusiasm."

To this point, the BLT has been focusing on building marksmanship, individual and small-unit leadership skills, he added.

Starling was quick to point out that none of the success the BLT has enjoyed here would have been possible without the stellar support they have received from CLB-26 and HMM-264 (Rein.).

The guest of honor for the event was Col. Gregg A. Sturdevant, the 26th MEU's commanding officer, who marked his 31st year of service to the Corps on July 14.

The day after the warriors' night, the BLT took a day off for a maintenance stand-down, to recharge, refresh and reset for the final week of training here.

The training here is part of the 26th MEU's rigorous six-month, pre-deployment training program, which will culminate in a deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism in 2007.