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Thursday, April 24, 2014

 


Service members volunteer at Tinian school, community center

TINIAN, Northern Mariana Islands—Marines and sailors participated in a community relation event on Tinian on Dec. 13 at the Tinian Christian Academy and the Tinian Community Center to improve existing relationships with the local community.

The service members are participating in Exercise Forager Fury II, and took time from their daily routine to read to the children at TCA and repaint the community center.

Forager Fury II is a joint exercise and the purpose is to employ and assess combat power generation in a deployed and austere environment.

“One of objectives of Forager Fury II is to enhance local relationships on Tinian,” said Navy Lt. Alexander J. Cho, chaplain with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

“People can see what we’re doing with the reconstruction of North Field and the aircraft in the sky, but volunteering at the school hits home. For the students, it’s almost the best day of the whole school year and an event like this impacts the entire family.”

The presence of the service members who volunteered their time to make a difference within the community is greatly appreciated, according to Jim Howard, senior pastor and principal of TCA.

“This was a really positive experience for the students,” said Howard. “This was not just a military group coming in and doing operations, but coming in and taking some time to give back to the community and it means so much for the students.”

The volunteer group consisted of Marines and sailors with various military occupational specialties within MWSS-171 and Marine Air Support Squadron 2, Marine Air Control Group 18, all currently assigned to MAG-12 for the exercise.

The service members read stories and interacted with students. Afterward, they began repainting the community center with the intent to leave a clear message to the island of Tinian, according to Lance Cpl. Ramaique Tota, air support net operator with MASS-2.

“Marines do have a caring heart,” said Tota. “This is just a start. Other than helping students, we can do more in the community, even more than painting the community center.”

While the purpose of Forager Fury II is to train and maintain operational readiness, the Marines are also committed to building local relationships and respecting the local community.

“The students see troops on shows and movies, but for them to play and laugh and actually interact with their heroes has a huge impact, an impact that a principal or teacher cannot make,” said Howard. (Lance Cpl. Antonio Rubio)

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