By Cpl. Clayton VonDerAhe, 2nd Marine Division
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – “Curl your fingers, and get in step!” bellows one Marine, while another calls a marching cadence for the group of wives who were clueless as to exactly the right way to move in a formation. Some of the women were older, some were younger; all were raised in different walks of life and from different areas through the United States. The binding reason that brought these women together, marching haphazardly down the road, was to spend a day in the life of their Marine husbands.
Marines and their spouses with Headquarters Company, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, participated in the company’s Jane Wayne Day May 12. The day offered the spouses the opportunity to endure what their Marines routinely do as part of being a United States Marine.
“I have never gotten to do this before, I’m really excited about it,” Mrs. Berger said, the wife of Cpl. Phillip Berger, a rifleman with the company. “My dad was a lieutenant colonel and my husband has been a Marine for nearly four years now and I have never gotten to do anything like this.”
The Bergers are high school sweethearts who both came from military families and met at Lejeune High School. They tied the knot before Berger’s enlistment, and coincidently found themselves stationed back at Marine Corp Base Camp Lejeune. Years after her marriage, and after decades of being a Marine daughter, Mrs. Berger was finally afforded the opportunity to do all the Marine things that she had only heard about for so long.
The day held a slew of activities for the women, and while they were not expected to outperform the Marines, the Marine instructors were not easy on them. It began with a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program class, the obstacle course and a modified combat fitness test, all before lunch.
The women ran, low crawled, climbed obstacles and punched pads, while their husbands supervised.
“I’ll joke around and wrestle with my wife now and then and show her some MCMAP stuff, but I never really get to much into it,” Berger explained.
“It was really cool,” Mrs. Berger added. “I had an idea of what it was before, but they actually pushed me to do the moves. It was really fun.”
The women strapped helmets to their heads and threw flak jackets over their shoulders before they jumped into a truck for the day’s second portion of events – shooting live rounds from rifles and pistols.
The wives split in half: one group to learn how to shoot, the other went to look at some of the vehicles used in a deployed environment and larger weapons, such as the MK12 grenade launcher and .50 caliber machine guns.
“I’m glad I got to do this,” Mrs. Berger said excitedly. Her husband’s enlistment is concluding and they plan on moving to Oklahoma after his term of service is over. “I have been hearing about this stuff my whole life, but I never really understood things like what a (squad automatic weapon) was or what all the acronyms meant.”
Firing a SAW first-hand, eating MRE’s and riding in MRAPs, to cite a few examples, gave the Marine spouses a sneak peak what their husbands go through after those long days of hard work and gained a better appreciation of what goes on in their significant others’ life.
“I really recommend it, I really do. I have been around this all my life without really being around it,” Mrs. Berger said.