CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan --
Deviled eggs, turkey, pork, mashed potatoes, cookies and a dozen more platters sit on a row of tables. A line of people - short, tall, young and old - curved around the buffet tables and kept growing as party goers went for seconds.
The Marines, sailors and families of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit command element came together to celebrate the holidays with a Christmas party inside the House of Pain gymnasium here, Dec. 12.
In the background, Christmas jingles and songs played from speakers to set the mood for everyone to enjoy the holiday spirit. Children ran around, frolicking eagerly in the bounce house or on the basketball court. There were also black and white drawings and crayons for children to color with.
“I like jumping in the bounce house, coloring, playing and making new friends,” said Alex G. Skutch, a six year old and daughter of Maj. John P. Skutch, the logistics officer for the CE, 31st MEU, and a native of New York City, N.Y..
Despite a busy pre-deployment training schedule, the Marines used the time to take a break from work to spend time together while eating food prepared and served by military families.
“This event got Marines out of the barracks,” said Cpl. Tyler S. Mclearen, a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear defense specialist with the CE, 31st MEU, and a native of Kansas City, Mo. “It built unit cohesion;\on top of that, there’s a lot of free food too, so that’s always a plus.”
Later, Santa Claus arrived at the event in style on a fire truck flashing red and white lights to pass out presents and take pictures with the children. .
After the holiday season, the Marines of the 31st MEU will continue with their semiannual pre-deployment training, otherwise known as “MEUEX,” which prepares the unit for upcoming deployments in the Asia-Pacific.
The 31st MEU is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region and is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU.