By Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff , Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Spouses of Marines and sailors aboard Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton participated in the MCAS Camp Pendleton’s Mary Mun Day, April 27.
The spousal appreciation event, the air station’s version of Jayne Wayne Day, is designed to provide information on the mission and organization of MCAS Camp Pendleton to spouses and guests, resulting in a combat ready Marine and a more resilient family.
“A lot of spouses don’t understand that we are our own installation and do the services to support the Marine Aircraft Group 39,” said Sony Avalos, family readiness officer for MCAS Camp Pendleton.
“This shows them the ins-and-outs of what these guys do, from the radar room to air traffic control.”
Avalos’ husband has been a Marine for 13 years, and because he deploys frequently, Avalos has never had the opportunity to participate in a Jayne Wayne Day. So, with no knowledge of how a spousal awareness day is typically run, Avalos successfully coordinated the first Mary Mun Day last October.
“It was hard planning the event last year, not knowing what goes on,” said Avalos. “This year, the event exceeded my expectations completely.”
Rebecca Hayes, Marine wife, enjoyed last year’s Mary Mun Day so much she attended again this year.
“Last year, (the Marines) had such pride in showing off their work spaces and what they do for the air station,” said Hayes. “There are a lot of new women here this year, and I hope they find the experience as enjoyable as I did last year.”
Spouses were given the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities this year, according to Avalos.
The eventful day began with a series of power-point presentations, which introduced the different Military Occupational Specialties that the spouses would be encountering throughout the day.
Once the spouses were familiarized with the different MOSs, Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructors demonstrated and coached the spouses through basic MCMAP techniques. With their adrenalin pumping, the spouses were then divided into groups and were shown different sections of the air station, which included static displays as well as hands-on practical application.
Spouses toured several aircrafts, traveled to the top of the MCAS Camp Pendleton Air Traffic Control tower and were guided through the dimly-lit radar room.
The Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Marines explained the use of some of the tools and machines stored on the emergency response vehicle, as well as provide the opportunity for spouses to get a taste of the proper procedures to extinguish an aircraft fire while wearing the protective equipment the crew would wear.
Dining at the 22 Area Chow Hall gave the spouses an opportunity to eat lunch with their Marine, which is something they normally don’t get to do, explained Avalos.
After lunch the spouses were driven to a firing range, where Explosive Ordnance Disposal Marines had set up a static display of the technology they use and models of what a roadside bomb might look like. They also fired several rounds with a .50-caliber, sniper rifle.
The EOD Marines wore ear-to-ear smiles as they helped a few volunteers put on the 95 pound bomb suit, and watch them attempt to walk around in it.
The spouses became even more excited when the most anticipated hands-on activity was announced to be next on the agenda. Equipped with ear and eye protection, the spouses got down in the prone position and took aim down range with M-4s.
Before loading back into the bus, EOD explained the origin and differenced between common military explosives, such as gun powder, dynamite and C-4. With everyone wearing ear and eye protection, demonstrations of each explosives were detonated from a safe distance. This provided the means for a visual and audible comparison of how each explosion looked and heard.
The eventful day came to an end after each spouse was awarded a certificate of completion and a commemorative dog tag at the MCAS Camp Pendleton Station Classroom.
Col. Mike Lawrence, commanding officer of MCAS Camp Pendleton, hopes to continue hosting Mary Mun Day yearly, despite the upcoming change of commands.
“We are losing both of our command staff,” said Avalos. “(The Marines and FROs) will have to carry out their vision, and of course the mission will remain the same, to give the spouses exposure.”