MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Family and friends of the 1st Tank Battalion got a little taste of the everyday life of their Marines and sailors during the unit’s Jane Wayne Day March 31, 2011.
The visitors were taken out to Range 400 in 7-ton trucks, exposing them to the bumpy and dusty rides the Marines are so familiar with.
After a brief, the guests experienced the vehicles their Marines and sailors work with daily during tank and Assault Amphibious Vehicle rides.
“I got to ride in a tank! It made my life,” said Thea McCracken, a wife of Lance Cpl. Cody McCracken with Company D, currently deployed to Afghanistan. “I have been excited for [Jane Wayne Day] for two months, and now I get to tell my husband I sat two billets higher than him in a tank.”
The group, which included, wives, sisters, mothers, friends, brothers, co-workers and children also watched a live-fire weapon demonstrations, which included the main gun on a tank and various machine guns. The guests were presented M-4 rifles and tried their hands at firing a firearm many Marines can put together and take apart practically with their eyes closed.
“We want them to understand and have an idea of what their husbands do when they hear [their husbands] are going to the field,” said Jany Wasdin, the family readiness officer for 1st Tanks. “They get a flavor of the field. It’s not easy being out here. It’s hot and dry. By experiencing this, they can understand what their husbands are talking about.”
The guests were also given opportunities to talk to the unit’s members and ask questions.
“It gives us a deeper respect because you get better insight on what they do,” said Tara Henkel, wife of Lance Cpl. John Henkel, a mechanic with 1st Tanks. “Now we can pass understanding to new military wives coming in.”
Following the fun in the sun, the Marines hosted a barbeque for lunch.
At the end of the day, the guests loaded up the 7-ton vehicles to ride back to mainside. To their unfortunate surprise, they were sandblasted by the desert winds the entire trip, a circumstance the Marines and sailors of 1st Tanks know all too well. This was a day in the life of the Corps.