MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Residents of barracks 313 and 314 received a special visit from senior leaders and families during the Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron Family Readiness Block Party, which took place behind the H&HS barracks, June 15, 2013.
“We had some of our spouses volunteer … we’ve got our (staff noncommissioned officers) over here grilling up some food, just to do something the junior Marines don’t have to work for,” said Katherine West, H&HS family readiness officer. “Our junior Marines are usually the working party for things, so we wanted to give them something they can enjoy, some food other than the crossroads or the chow hall, and to have some friendly faces serving it up. This is our way of saying 'thank you.'”
While the party took place behind the barracks, with the help of caring families, barbequed meals found their way to Marines in all H&HS shops, transported by several volunteers.
“When you’re here unaccompanied and you’re in the barracks, you can lose that sense that you have a family here,” said West. “We wanted to drive home the feeling that we at H&HS, we are a family and we want to do things like this for the Marines.”
The original plan for the block party was to incorporate tournaments as well, to include corn hole, volleyball and basketball.
Even with rain pouring before the sun rose, attendance for the event wasn’t hindered.
“Our hopes were to have tournaments going on, but the weather is not playing nice,” said West.“We have everybody who’s out here still in high spirits.We had people come out here when it was raining ten times as hard, setting up the tents. I think it’s still good. I mean, it’s a free hot plate of food. I want each one of these Marines and sailors to come down here, get a plate and enjoy being down here with us."
From Marines and sailors who have spent the better half of their tour aboard station to those newly checked in, all in attendance appeared delighted by the effort put forth by senior Marines and their families.
“I’ve been on tabs since I checked in with the sergeant major, he made it very clear that there was going to be a cookout on the fifteenth,” said Pfc. Kristen Kahalewai, block party participant and barracks resident. “That was about two weeks ago.
Because I’m so new, I still have very strong memories of boot camp and (Marine Combat Training) and (military occupational school), where, if you were at the bottom of the totem pole, you were treated like you were at the bottom of the totem pole. They didn’t associate with you; the only thing they were there for was to correct you and tell you what to do. So, it’s almost like mom and dad making food for you, telling you to sit down at the table and then serving you, that’s what it feels like.”
Even with the tournaments canceled and rain continuing throughout the entirety of the event, the underlying theme of
the older generation giving to the younger prevailed over dreary skies.
“(Marines are) all about unit morale and this is a morale booster,” said Kahalewai. “It’s where you come out and you feel more a part of the group, you feel appreciated. My dad has this motto he lives by. He said, ‘People are going to be willing to do things for you. If you ask them to do something, they’re most likely going to do it when you ask. But if they don’t feel appreciated, they’re less likely to do it again.’ So, of course we can instantly and willingly obey every command, but, after a while, that willingness fades away, unless we feel like what we’re doing matters, because why would you do something if it doesn’t matter?”