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Twentynine Palms, California
Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
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Cpl. Matthew Riedel, unmanned aerial vehicle operator, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1, speaks with Ryan Biggs, 6, and Richard Biggs, 6, first graders at Joshua Tree Elementary, prior to beginning a race with them and other students at Joshua Tree Elementary during an adopt-a-school visit Dec. 4, 2013.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Paul S. Martinez

VMU-1 participates in adopt-a-school

7 Dec 2013 | Lance Cpl. Paul S. Martinez Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

Marines with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 participated in a visit to Joshua Tree Elementary as part of the adopt-a-school program Dec. 4, 2013.

The squadron, which officially adopted the school, took the opportunity to exercise with children of grade levels one and two during the scheduled Pacer Test, a physical trial that measures cardiovascular ability.

“We’re here to spend time with the school we have adopted,” said Sgt. Jason Williams, air control, VMU-1. “I like kids, I like to be out here and be a good example for them.”

The Marines and students gathered at the school’s basketball court to begin the Pacer Test, which consisted of a series of progressively fast runs across the court. When instructed to begin, all students sprinted, with the Marines following alongside them.

“Having the Marines here is fun,” said Andrew King, second grade student, JT Elementary. “They were making us laugh, and I really like how we ran together with them.”

The Marines’ school visit inspired the kids to actively participate.

“I think this is an awesome program,” said Debbie Motts, teacher, JT Elementary.

“The kids really look forward to it and the Marines interact very well with them. The kids become more involved and more engaged.”

For the Marines, acting as playful mentors made the experience just as rewarding.

“My Marines can learn better leadership by teaching these kids and setting the example for them,” Williams said. “It directly correlates to what we do.”

As the Pacer Test continued to increase in speed, Marines only encouraged the children to keep going; reminding them they were with them every step of the way.

“Every visit is positive for both the Marines and the children,” Motts said. “The Marines are good mentors, and great role models for the kids to look up to. It shows the success the kids can one day achieve.”

The Marines are already anticipating more activities to be held with their school. 

“This school is great,” Williams said. “I’ve got good Marines out here, and we hope to be back.”

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms