MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER, TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Wives of 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Marines and sailors got a chance to walk in their husbands’ boots Nov. 17, 2010, when they geared up and participated in the unit’s Jane Wayne Day aboard the Combat Center and its training areas.
The spouses rode in amphibious assault vehicles, wore flak jackets and helmets, ate Meals, Ready-to-Eat, learned about and fired real weapons, and experienced many other aspects of their husbands’ lives they may not have known about, said Gunnery Sgt. Shawn Hanson, the company gunnery sergeant for Company E, 2nd Bn., 7th Marines. Throughout the course of the day, the women traveled to Combat Center Ranges 105 and 205A for demonstrations and force-on-force training.
“Jane Wayne Day is good for [spouses] to see what you do,” said Hanson, a Memphis, Tenn., native, whose wife, Tracy, attended. “They get to see how it is and where we disappear to. It’s not some magical place over the mountains.”
Hanson added any day is a good day when putting rounds down range with friends.
“It’s always fun to shoot weapons,” he said. “The wives get a chance to build camaraderie that the Marines have when we’re running the ranges.”
Everything during Jane Wayne Day was not a walk in the park. Some wives found MRE’s foul, while others realized the depth of the physical strain of training for military operations on urban terrain after their force-on-force exercise at Combat Center Range 205A.
Participants testified to the fact they whole-heartedly enjoyed the festivities of the day.
“This is my first Jane Wayne Day at Twentynine Palms, and I loved every bit,” said Laura McKenzie, wife of Capt. Richard McKenzie, the commanding officer of Co. E. “We got to ride in an AAV. That was a lot of fun, too.”
McKenzie said she was grateful for the chance to get out and roll around in the dirt with a few people she might not have had a chance to meet otherwise.
“It’s so nice of Marines to take time to do this for us,” said the Kalamazoo, Mich., native. “Another great part about having this set up is we get a chance to meet all the other wives, too.”
Tiffany Stephens, who is married to Sgt. Patrick Stephens, a rifleman with Company E, said she was excited she finally got to enjoy her first, real Jane Wayne Day.
“Today hasn’t been as scary as I expected it to be,” said the Austin, Texas, native. “Last year I was pregnant, and didn’t get to participate in a lot of the stuff. But, now that I’m out here it’s been a lot of fun getting the whole experience.”
The new friends in the battalion will have another chance to bond this weekend during the unit’s Marine Corps Ball celebration.
Some of the spouses were concerned the timing of the event was too close to the ball. However, others felt the marks left over on their bodies after the day were badges of honor to show off when the time came.