NOVEMBER 29, 2019 – The smell of turkey, mac and cheese, various veggies and mashed potatoes wafts through the air of the small warm duplex home. A corgi jumps excitedly from person to person, greeting and begging for a taste from any plate he can manage to get his nose near. Marines from different backgrounds and professions occupy the living room space as they laugh and engage in conversation.
Cpl. Josue Marquez, a videographer with 3rd Marine Division and the owner of the duplex, wraps his arm around his husband and smiles as he observes the scene unfolding before him.
According to Marquez every Marine welcomed into his home Thanksgiving Day were people he considers not just co-workers, but also brothers and sisters.
“In the Marine Corps you develop a whole other family, you go through thick and thin together, creating a special bond that you sometimes don’t even form with your blood related family,” said Marquez. “Especially being stationed out here with III MEF and so far from home, the people you surround yourself with are your family away from family.”
Throughout the holiday season, Marines often miss out on time with family back in the United States because they are deployed or stationed overseas. During this time, service members form close bonds with the people they are surrounded by daily, creating for themselves a home atmosphere in a foreign country.
Bending over to pick up the rambunctious corgi named Donut, Lance Cpl. Francesca Landis, a graphic specialist, laughs as he affectionately licks her cheek.
Being new to Okinawa and unable to go back to her native home of Winder, Georgia, Landis stated that it was nice to find a group of people so warm and welcoming to keep her from being alone throughout the holiday seasons.
“My husband is currently in Military Occupational Specialty school for military policemen and my family are all back in Georgia.” Said Landis. “I thought I was going to dread this time of year because I’d be alone. Turns out there are plenty of other Marines stationed at III MEF who are staying here for the holidays and celebrating with those around them, like one big family.”
Setting down Donut, Landis rejoined the other people playing a card game and causing a happy raucous.
Every person in the room has a smile on their face and a plate of warm food in their hand. None of the Marines here were able to go home, but seeing the friendship they share and the joy of getting together, brings the understanding that family is important; that you can build a family of your own with those around you according to Marquez.
“I thought being stationed with III MEF was going to be hard because I’m so close with my family back in California,” said Marquez. “But honestly being here has given me a bigger appreciation for my military family. III MEF brought us closer together and now whenever I leave, I know the friends…actually, brothers and sisters, I’ve formed here will always have my back.”
Story by Lance Cpl. Hannah Hall
III Marine Expeditionary Force