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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. Perry Baxter, squad leader, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, pushes a student on the swing during the unit's bimonthly visit as part of the Adopt-a-School program April 3, 2014. The Marines visit the school twice a month, building bonds with kids through play and learning.

Photo by Cpl. Ali Azimi

3/4 Marines and sailors spend time with kids

3 Apr 2014 | Cpl Ali Azimi Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

It was a war zone unlike any other. Cpl. Perry Baxter, squad leader, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, was trekking through the sand. As he made his next turn, he was ambushed. The next thing he knew he was on the ground, unable to get up, covered in a pile of third-graders.

Marines and sailors with 3/4, visited students at Oasis Elementary School as part of the Adopt-a-School program, April 3, 2014.

“It’s a nice change of pace,” said Cpl. Marvin Rodriguez, squad leader, Company L, 3/4. “We get to give back to the community. We are warfighters but this allows us to show that Marines can do things other than just fight.”

The unit has been a part of the program since February, visiting the school twice every month. During their visits, the Marines and sailors interact with students inside and outside the classroom.

“Usually it’s one teacher with 25 kids, and they love it when a Marine takes three or four kids and reads to them or helps them out with their homework,” said Navy Lt. Kenneth Jewell, battalion chaplain, 3/4. “Some of these kids are out and about and don’t have any other kids to play with, so the teachers have expressed an interest to have the Marines teach them sharing and teamwork.”

The battalion is the most deployed unit since 9/11 and recently returned from Afghanistan in October 2013. The break from typical infantry training was not only welcomed by the Marines and sailors, but the students as well.

“They come out here with us and we get to have fun with them,” said Elijha Ferrel, fourth-grade student, Oasis Elementary School. “They are like role models to us and they can help us with a lot of different things.”

The battalion is scheduled to be decommissioned at the end of May, scattering its members to different units across the Corps.

Ferrel said he was sad to hear the Marines were leaving, but he looks forward to the possibility of Marines from a different unit visiting school after 3/4 leaves the Combat Center.

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms