BRISBANE, Australia --
Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, in Brisbane for a multi-day port visit, brought smiles to elderly patients and children during a community relations event at the Maynor Children’s Hospital, August 4.
During the visit, the 12 Marines got the chance to interact with the patients and describe their roll in exercise Talisman Sabre 2011, as well as listen to the stories of the patients.
“They were very hospitable and very welcoming to our presence there,” said Lt j.g. Barrett Craig, a chaplain with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st MEU. “We had a chance to have one-on-one time with them, where we got to share stories and hear about their lives”
Although the children present were a little timid during the beginning of the event, they eventually warmed up to the participants.
“At first, the children were a little frightened at first, but then they realized that we are just big kids in uniform and they opened up to us and shared their lives,” said Craig. “Some of these children had some very serious sickness, but at the same time they are very joyful during their suffering, and were an example to us.”
Overall the Marines seemed honored to have had the chance to participate during part of their liberty period.
“Personally, it made me feel great and gave me a good feeling inside,” said Lance Cpl. Ryan Gwartney, a rifleman with Company G, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st MEU. “I would do it again, I felt I was helping those children and elderly patients just by talking to them and making them feel better.”
At the end of the event, the participants left with a feeling of great pride.
“We are very thankful for the Australian people,” said Craig. “We are thankful for their hospitality, thankful for our close relations, and we wish the patients here God's speed during their recovery.”
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.