CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Marines, sailors and families of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and families of the currently-deployed 24th MEU, spent July 25, 2012, at Onslow Beach for a day of fun in the sun. With the help of their respective family readiness officers, the groups ate, drank, and played games, including dunking the commanding officer, playing on the slip and slide, and bouncing in the inflated castle.
“This is one of many family readiness events we have scheduled. We still have many families who haven’t met each other, so this is a good way to bring the families together and bring the kids together,” said Col. Matthew G. St. Clair, 26th MEU commanding officer and Baltimore native. The MEU’s family readiness team attempts to put on at least one family readiness event a season.
“It’s important … that the spouses and families know each other. The other families know what they’re going through. They can relate, and it’s good for the Marines to get out of the office – let loose – have some fun,” said Lisa Castleberry, 26th MEU family readiness officer from Gervais, Ore.
The event was held in conjunction with the 24th MEU’s ‘Over the Hump’ party, marking the halfway point of the deployment for the unit. Families of the Marines deployed joined with the families of the 26th MEU in relaxing and talking about their deployment so far.
“The 26th MEU spouses can talk and learn from the 24th MEU spouses about what it’s like to go through a MEU deployment,” said Angela Riddle, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment’s family readiness officer from Enid, Okla. The infantry battalion is currently reinforcing the 24th MEU as Battalion Landing Team 1/2.
“They’re halfway through their deployment. So this gives our spouses, who may have never dealt with a MEU deployment before, a chance to talk to their spouses,” said Castleberry. A MEU deployment differs significantly from the standard deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan that have been the norm for the last decade; for many of the spouses, this may be their first MEU deployment or first deployment at all. “On a regular deployment, they pack up and go together, and they’re in one spot for the entire deployment,” said Castleberry. On a MEU deployment, the Marines and sailors are spread out on three ships, on land, doing different missions, and heading in completely different directions.” Talking to the spouses of the 24th MEU may help prepare them for the challenges ahead, said Castleberry.