SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Every Marine a rifleman. These words have no truer meaning to the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 7th Marine Regiment, which is currently known as the most deployed Marine Corps battalion throughout Operation Enduring Freedom. These Marines underwent a different mission in the early hours on May 25, 2014, one that afforded them the opportunity to serve the community in between their periods of serving the nation.
Marines and sailors with 3/4 traveled to San Diego to volunteer at a shelter and participate in a military recognition ceremony in a San Diego Padres baseball game at Petco Park, May 25, 2014.
“We wanted to do something for our single Marines for some time,” said Navy Lt. Travis Jewell, Chaplain, 3/4. “We’re getting ready to case the colors soon and we thought about a combination of community relations and fun.”
According to Jewell, the battalion was familiar with reaching out to the community, but this time around, the Marines and sailors would be setting foot in a new location and earning a seat at a baseball game for their morning of work.
“We’ve done community relations, such as adopt-a-school and school visits since coming back from deployment, but [the shelter and game] were a first-time things for 3/4,” Jewell said.
The group arrived at the St. Vincent de Paul Village around 5 a.m. to help prepare and serve food to less fortunate members of the community. There was plenty of work to go around as the group chopped fruit, scooped spoons of hot eggs and oatmeal, cut frozen desserts and prepared bag lunches with sandwiches and chips.
“This truly is a village,” said Delilah Prokosh, cook on duty, St. Vincent de Paul Village. “We have about 700 men, women and children that live in this area. I love having the Marines here because we don’t get this many volunteers on a regular basis.”
According to Prokosh, the efforts of the group helped feed approximately 500 people, some of them military veterans. Once breakfast was over, the group turned to wiping tables and mopping floors to conclude a morning of feeding others and leaving a spotless kitchen.
“I thank them for their service,” Prokosh said. “Volunteers matter here.”
After their volunteer work at the shelter, the group prepared for the baseball game. With a clean appearance in uniform, Marines and sailors took to the field to be seen and cheered on by a crowd of over 30,000, spectators. Sailors from the USS San Diego and drill instructors with soon-to-be-named Marines from Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego were also present.
As a treat to the crowd, Navy special operators with the Navy Leap Frog Parachute Team conducted a landing on the field, demonstrating their modern-day military prowess. The San Diego Padres mascot, the Swinging Friar, ran down the line of service members to greet them. Then, a joint Navy and Marine Corps color guard took center field as uniformed service members saluted the colors alongside hundreds of veterans in the crowd whose service spanned different branches and eras.
The service members joined the crowd in watching and cheering for the players from the bleachers, enjoying a game of baseball with a community that welcomed them.
“It was a great time for camaraderie and reflection,” Jewell said. “I think the day went very well. [The group] got to serve veterans and eat with them, and received recognition at the game.”
Once the game was over, the group returned to the Combat Center, having accomplished their mission to assist a community that needed them and in the process, letting all others know the legacy of "Darkside" before their colors are cased and the battalion deactivates, until the Marine Corps needs them yet again.
“Now we make sure they go to happy homes,” Jewell said. “Whether it’s the civilian world or other units. [3/4] has built a great foundation with a legacy to follow. It's not a goodbye but more of a see you later.”