MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif.—Marines walk into Bldg. 5407 at Camp Wilson, tired and hungry, and are greeted by a United Service Organization volunteer. They are offered a smorgasbord of food, including chips, hotdogs, popcorn and an assortment of drinks. They then take their seats and prepare to watch a free screening of ‘American Sniper.’
Marines and sailors attend a movie night hosted by the Palm Springs United Services Organizations, Single Marine Program, Marine Corps Community Service and Camp Wilson personnel at Camp Wilson to help boost morale and motivate them for the upcoming Integrated Training Exercise 2-15, Jan. 21.
The director of the Palm Springs USO, Thersa Cherry, contacted Maj. Yanni Athanasiadis, officer in charge, Exercise Logistics Center.
“Right before they start training, there’s not much going on and everyone is here, that’s why we chose this week.” Athanasiadis, who is also known as the ‘Mayor of Camp Wilson’ said. “The Marines seem to be in good spirits and anytime the USO is able to get involved with the service members, it’s a good thing.”
The number of Marines and sailors who attended the event rose so high, that a second showing of the movie was offered. Approximately 400 Marines and sailors attended the free screening. This is the first time a movie screening as large as this one has been offered to the Marines and sailors during an ITX, Athanasiadis said.
“The USO is with the service members all the way and when the Marines come out here for exercises they don’t really have anything to keep them busy [during] the couple of nights before they go to the field,” Cherry said. “So we thought that bringing the movies to them would be a good idea. We chose the movie ‘American Sniper’ because we knew there would be a big turn out and it would motivate the Marines and sailors.”
One of the Marines who attended the event was Lance Cpl. Bradley Walsh, riflemen, 4th Marine Division, who is stationed at Marine Base Camp Schwab, Okinawa, Japan.
“When we found out the USO was putting on ‘American Sniper’ for us, we were all pretty pumped because we thought we were going to be missing the release of it due to being in the field.” Walsh said. “It’s really motivating to know he’s fought with Marines in the past and it’s a story that should be [shared].”
“Just seeing the participation already, I can say confidently that the USO is interested in coming back for additional events like this,” Athanasiadis said.
The Palm Springs USO and Maj. Athanasiadis had such a good turnout, that they agreed to keep doing events like this during ITX on the first or second day of training.