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Patriotic Article
Troops and Veterans
By USMC LCpl. Jahn R. Kuiper

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Marines Help Community Leaders Learn More About The Marine Corps
(November 13, 2009)

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John D’Ambrosio, the president for Orange County, N.Y., Chamber of Commerce, takes poses in front of a CH-53 helicopter in a hanger at Marine Corps Air Facility Quantico. D’Ambrosio came with 24 other civic leaders from Newburgh, N.Y. to learn more about the Marine Corps.
Oct. 30, 2009 - John D'Ambrosio, the president for Orange County, N.Y., Chamber of Commerce, takes poses in front of a CH-53 helicopter in a hanger at Marine Corps Air Facility Quantico. D'Ambrosio came with 24 other civic leaders from Newburgh, N.Y. to learn more about the Marine Corps.

From the outside looking in, the Marine Corps may seem challenging to figure out. But Marines from Stuart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y., welcomed local civic leaders to take that challenge so both parties can better educate themselves and understand how to help each other.

“We are not on a Marine Corps base so our support structure is the community,” said Lt. Col. Hugh Atkinson, the commanding officer of MAG-49. “They are the ones helping our Marine families. They've got our back.

Twenty-five community leaders, including chambers of commerce presidents, law enforcement officials, business owners and others, came to Quantico Oct. 30 aboard a C-130 with Marines from of Marine Air Group 49 stationed in Newburgh. They came to Quantico because it was the closest Marine base that could tell about the Marines story. Together they came to learn about the Marine Corps and more about each other.

Even though the Marines have been embedded in the Hudson River Valley community since 1986 there are still civilians who didn't know either that the Marines were there or they knew very little about the Marine Corps.

“Many of these people didn't even know there were Marines on the base,”

Atkinson said. “I invited them to see how the Marine Corps affects their community. We do many community relation events such as providing color guards. By getting together we can find out how we can support them and we find out how they can help us.”

For the civilians, this collaboration is a welcome one.

“We love our military and we understand that we have to work with the military,” said John D'Ambrosio, president for Orange County, N.Y., Chamber of Commerce. “There are more than 2,000 service members who spend money and serve in our local community – we can't ignore that. We have service members who serve on our community boards and help with community events. This trip is another step to see what is available to us through the military and share what we can offer.”

But the business side is only one flip of the coin. The other reason for coming to Quantico is more sentimental.

“Since 9/11 there has been a great deal of appreciation and respect in our community for people in uniforms,” said Charles North, president of Duchess County, N.Y., Chamber of Commerce. “We do what we can to show them we're grateful for what they do by thanking them and doing events such as this to find out more about Marines. We appreciate all the humanitarian work they do in our community.”

“Marines are not all guns, but also butter,” said D'Ambrosio. “When we are working with them it's not just business, but also respect for what they do.”

Each person who came learned something new about Marines.

“The dog training was great,” said D'Ambrosio. “I never thought about the dogs being in combat and what all they can do.”

“I was impressed by how they maintained their helicopter fleet even though those helicopters are pretty old,” North said. “Also, it was amazing to see how Marines shuttle the commander-in-chief. That's a noble mission.”

“I was surprised by the amount of time and effort they put into their education,” Carl DuBois, the Orange County Sheriff, said about the Marine Corps University. “I'm a big believer in education and I was impressed in seeing what they offer. They don't just give Marines a uniform, a compass and a gun. Their preparation goes deeper than that.”

Learning about the training Marine dogs go through or about the preparation Marine One goes through for each flight is interesting but the importance of this trip was to build connections between Marines and civilians.

“It's important for the sheriff's office and other community offices to be involved in the military,” said DuBois. “I don't know much about the Marine Corps. I had a chance to learn more so I took advantage of that chance. I'm very glad I did. I was able to talk to Lt. Col. [Atkinson] and learn more about Marines. I was able to learn more about the sacrifices service members make to keep our freedom.”

Article and photo by USMC LCpl. Jahn R. Kuiper
Multi National Force - West
Copyright 2009

Reprinted from Marine Corps News

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