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Families of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 7th Marine Regiment, participate in a rock-climbing wall event during the unit’s final family day hosted at Desert Winds Golf Course, March 21, 2014. The unit's family day consisted of several events for both the children and adults of the family.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Charles Santamaria

Final family day for ‘Darkside’ Marines

21 Mar 2014 | Lance Cpl. Charles Santamaria

Marines with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 7th Marine Regiment, hosted their final family day at the Desert Winds Golf Course, March 21, 2014.

The unit’s family day consisted of several events for both the children and adults of the family. Bouncy houses, an inflatable obstacle course, horseshoes, and a golf tournament for Marines to compete in, were made available to all in attendance.

“I’ve been with 3/4 since 2010, both as a spouse and a Family Readiness Officer, so it definitely feels like a family to me,” said Heidi Harting, family readiness officer, 3/4. “It’s our last family day and we really wanted to go all out so we brought out the rock-climbing wall from Outdoor Adventures, brought multiple inflatable houses, a dunk tank and a golf tournament for the Marines to compete in.”

Towards the deactivation of 3/4, it becomes easier to reflect on what the unit has accomplished and some of the obstacles families have been through.

“3/4 is the most deployed infantry battalion to combat zones during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom combined. The unit just came back from their last deployment October, 2013,” Harting said. “Military families are resilient and through all the struggle and hardship that comes with seeing their family and friends deploy to combat zones, we have pulled through together as one.”

Marines leaving to other units look back on things they will miss and what they’re looking forward to in the future.

“It was a good unit while it lasted and I got a lot of great training while I was with this unit which prepared me well for the future,” said Cpl. Harrison Leeper, intelligence specialist, 3/4. “It’s great to be going to another unit and trying something new, but the deployments with these Marines have left me with great memories.”

The event featured an 18-hole golf competition where Marines of all ranks went head-to-head in teams of four. The family day left the participants with mixed feelings, but Marines and their families cherished every moment.“It’s a bitter sweet time for the families and Marines,” Harting said. “But it’s nice to see the Marines and their families having a good time. It’s good to know that this family day added some joy to their day and gave them a place to just have fun.”

Spouses who have worked as volunteers in the 3/4 community have been phenomenal and their willingness to help each other has added to how close the unit is as a whole, according to Harting.

“In my time here, I’ve witnessed how much pride the ‘Darkside’ Marines have in their unit, what they do and Marines who they have lost,” Harting said. “They carry it with them always and it’s been life-changing for me to work with Marines like this.”
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