Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Toys for Tots 2009 Kicks Off

The opening ceremonies for the Toys for Tots Program were kicked off at Camp Foster, Okinawa and at Kendena Air Base. Toys for Tots is a program that was adopted in 1946 by the Marine Corps Reserve. It is a program where people donate toys to be distributed to children in need by Christmas. The Toys for Tots coordinator for the 2009 Okinawa campaign, Gunnery Sgt. Suzette S Smith, says, "This is one of the few campaigns the Marine Corps is known for, not only is the military showing goodwill to the community, it is increasing the Marine Corps' visibility and recognition." With the widespread participation of Toys for Tots all the way across the United States, the program has become very successful. Last year the Okinawa campaign raised over 13000 toys, 3,000 more toys than the goal. Smith says that this year the goal is to greatly surpass last years 13,000 mark. The majority of the collection boxes are located in all the base exchanges, chapels, personal service centers on all the service’s bases on Okinawa. The program is also planned to kick off this year on bases in the United States soon. The collection boxes are not limited to military bases. There will be many locations around municipal parts of towns all over America. There is a need for a lot of volunteers to run the collection centers. "We need lots and lots of volunteers to help with collection boxes, warehousing and the special events. We take toys for ages zero to 18 but are especially needy for toys for the older kids" said Cpl. Shivali Sharma, a volunteer coordinator for the campaign from the Reserve Liaison Office. Any service member can volunteer but Marines must wear their dress blues and other service must wear their equivalent. Any toy that is donated must be unwrapped and new. Participation in the program with be greatly appreciated. Click Here for the Full Story

Friday, November 13, 2009

Taliban Fortress Inhabited by Marines

Since August 1st 2009, Marines of Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine has set up operation out of an old Taliban fortress. The fortress has been come to be know as the “the mansion.” This is not usual for the Marines. Marines throughout history have shown that they have the ability to make any place “home.” Home can be anything from: sand, gravel, dirt or a newly captured Taliban compound. According to local Afghans, the compound formally belonged to a drug lord. The drug lord started building it to house his entire family but it was never completed because he was arrested and taken away. The Marines were tasked with capturing the compound and the mansion that was centered in the compound. It was believed that insurgent forces had moved into the vacant compound. When the Marines whet to capture the compound, they encountered some resistance but it was promptly eliminated. The mansion itself was empty; insurgents occupied only the outlying areas of the computed. The empty mansion was in a lot of disarray. "It was a real mess when we first got here," said Cpl. Jacob Mikesell, 22, a mortarman from Papillion, Neb. "There was grass growing up to our chests, the buildings had mounds of dust covering everything and trash was thrown all over the place." The Marines and Afghan Army soldiers stationed there are conduct both foot and vehicle patrols to in an attempt to keep the surrounding areas safe and to keep the Taliban from recruiting new members. After we moved in, locals told us that most of the Taliban in the area had run away," said Sgt. Nicholas Hine, a squad leader with Weapons Co., 1/5. "But we know there are still some here who are trying to coerce the population to go against us." This new acquisition gives the Marines the ability to get close to the locals and learn and understand their needs and problems. Click Here for hte Full Story

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Different Spin on Martial Arts

While at the Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan, select Marines were given the opportunity to take part in an Israeli Krav Maga course. The course took place in both Penny Lake and Iron Works Gym and lasted a week. Krav Maga is a hand to hand combat system that originated in Israel in the late 1940’s and it translated means “ contact combat” or close combat.” As opposed to combat using distance weaponry, such as guns, rifles, aircraft, tanks or artillery, Krav Mega is a combat the involves body contact. “There are more similarities than differences between Israeli Krav Maga and the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program as we get deeper into the comparison,” said David Kahn, Israeli Krav Maga Association U.S. Chief Instructor and IKMA board member. Marine Corps Martial Arts Program or MCMAP is the Marine Corps own martial arts program that combines many different kinds of previously established martial art. Like MCMAP, Krav Maga was developed for the military so it fit nicely in the class. Due to the similarities in the fighting styles, the Marines in the course picked it up very quickly. Many of the Marines taking the course have belts in Japanese and Brrazilian Jiu Jitsu and Tai boxing. Therefore they have an extensive martial arts background. “The Marines are very receptive,” said Kahn. “We are truly honored to be here. They are putting magnificent effort in it.” The class was given to the Marines aboard the station thanks to Lt. Col. Tray J. Ardese, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron commanding officer, who invited the Israeli Krav Maga instructors. The marines worked on countering knives, batons and ground, firearms or anything that a marine would come across in a real combat situation. According to Zahn, “It’s been a tremendous and positive experience, it’s truly been an honor.”Click Here for the full Story