FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. --
The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Company C, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., this morning aboard USS Wasp.
Beginning tomorrow, the sailors of the Wasp will open their doors for tours from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. The ship is open Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Sunday is the last day for tours, which begin at 1 p.m. and end at 4 p.m.
Tours are given by Marines and sailors, who will use vehicles, equipment and weapons as static displays to educate the public on what they do and how they do it.
“Civilians support the military financially and morally,” said 1st Lt. Jordan Harris, the executive officer of Company C, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. “It comes from the daughters and sons, fathers and husbands of America. I feel if they have an interest, they have the right to know what’s going on in the Marine Corps. America doesn’t need a Marine Corps; we just have one because Americans want one. It’s important for us to get our story out, so we can get the support we need.”
While in port, Marines and sailors will interact with the public on a daily basis. Plans have been made for Marines to help at elder care homes, help at schools, run at the Fort Lauderdale Rotary U.S. Military 5K Run, and more.
“I think it’s great. It gives us a good opportunity to intermingle with civilians,” said Staff Sgt. Ian Manion, the Chemical, Biologicial, Radiological, Nuclear defense chief with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
“We’re happy to be at Fort Lauderdale to show the community what we do as an organization,” said Cpl. Robert Rebello, an artillery section chief attached to Company C, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. “Also, we’ll be helping out the community with different events we have going on like visiting veterans. On our off time, we’ll enjoy experiencing the food, culture and people of the community.”
When Marines and sailors are done with work for the day, they can see the Fort Lauderdale area for themselves during liberty hours. Marines plan to enjoy off hours on airboat tours of the Everglades, snorkeling and visiting shopping centers. Saturday, local businesses are hosting the “Rock the Boat” block party at 7 p.m. in the Himmarshee Village area for Marines and sailors. The party is also open to the public.
Manion said, many civilians go their entire lifetime without ever meeting a Marine, so bringing a ship full of Marines to Fort Lauderdale is a prime opportunity to show that Marines are both great warfighters and contribute to society for the common good.