MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Wives mingled, children played and Marines from the only reserve tank battalion in the Marine Corps showed off their ‘Marine toys’ at their headquarters during their first family day picnic aboard the Combat Center Sept. 19.
During the picnic, members of Company D, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, and their families celebrated the first anniversary of 4th Tanks being stationed here. The battalion is currently on reserve status and travels to the Combat Center once a month for training. The families also learned about the many support services available to them throughout the installation.
The Marine Corps Community Services’ Marine Corps Family Team Building program took advantage of the event to answer questions from family members and held workshops on Marine Corps history, and customs and courtesies inside the headquarters building.
Attendees learned about the battalion’s long history dating back to World War II, when the Marines participated in the Kwajalein, Saipan and Iwo Jima campaigns.
They also learned how 4th Tanks earned their motto: “53 Days” during the Korean conflict. “‘53 Days’ comes from the entire battalion deploying quickly to join the fight,” said Capt. Paul Krumenacker, the commanding officer of Co. D. “From that first phone call to being in combat it only took the entire battalion 53 days.”
Family members not only learned about their unit’s past, but also what their unit can do to support them in the present and future. Representatives from Lifestyles, Insight, Networking, Knowledge, Skills and the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve provided Marines and their family members with pamphlets, fliers and other information designed to support them during deployments.
The day started early with Marines setting up the entertainment. Company D rented bounce houses, water slides, obstacle courses, a dunk tank and an inflatable pugil stick ring from Outdoor Adventures on base.
On the side of the building where the water slides were set up, a large puddle had formed, giving the children a mud-pit to play in. Parents laughed as the children rushed to the pond to cover themselves in a thick layer of mud.
Krumenacker, a San Diego native, said the make-shift ‘pond’ was a bigger hit with the children than any of the other water attractions they had set up.
Marines manned the grill to cook carne asada, and the more traditional hamburgers and hot dogs. Inside their headquarters building, participants could order snow cones, cotton candy and popcorn.
Family members learned about tanks, humvees and the different weapon systems tank battalion’s arsenal.
“Events like these give our family members a fun opportunity to see what their Marine does for the military,” said Gunnery Sgt. Robert Navarro, 1st Platoon commander for Co. D. “They gained a new appreciation for what we do after they rode in a tank or held a rifle.”
Capt Edwin Nunez, the inspector instructor for Co. D., believes being stationed aboard the Combat Center will help his Marines live up to their history and forge an impressive future.
“From what I have seen so far, these Marines have adjusted to their commute, some having to drive more than 300 miles to get here for their drill weekend,” said Nunez, a Twentynine Palms native. “They have started turning it into a competition and a way to prove how dedicated they are. You hear them comparing their drive here and it is not contempt you hear in their voice—it is pride.”