News: Service members, families enjoy Winter Wonderland
Story by Pfc. Grace Waladkewics
CHERRY POINT, N.C. - More than 1,500 Marines, Sailors and family members from nine Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point squadrons took part in the sixth annual Marine Aircraft Group 14 Winter Wonderland at the Marine Attack Squadron 223 hangar Dec. 12.
The free event featured jump castles, games, crafts and a showing of “The Polar Express.” Gunny Claus was at the event as well talking to children, taking pictures and handing out presents. Free food and beverages were also available for those in attendance, said Michael McGuinness, the family readiness officer with MAG-14.
“Keeping this event free to MAG-14 families shows them that our command team and their individual unit commands care a great deal about them and that they are so very appreciated and valued in those commands,” said McGuinness.
MAG-14 is comprised of Marines who fly and maintain a variety of aircraft in aviation missions around the world. This event was a rare opportunity for service members from all parts of the unit to come together and strengthen unit cohesion while having a good time, said McGuinness.
Members of Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 14, VMAs 223, 231 and 542, Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadrons 1 and 2, Marine Attack Training Squadron 203 and MAG-14 Personnel Support Detachment 14 came together and found the holiday spirit at the gathering.
“Many of our families within MAG-14 get to know each other,” through events like Winter Wonderland said McGuinness. “They serve together in various units and have friends from other units as well, so this is an opportunity for them to come together in a larger, more robust event.”
For Cpl. John Armistead, a refrigeration mechanic with MWHS-2, events like Winter Wonderland reassure Marines that their units do care about them and their families.
“This has brought Marines together outside of work and is building great camaraderie,” said Armistead. “The fact that this event was organized for service members and their families for free really shows that we are being taken care of more than just through what is required at work.”
Amanda Wylie, wife of Cpl. Patrick Wylie, an aircraft maintenance administrative specialist with VMA-223, attended the event with her children. For Wylie, events like Winter Wonderland bring a sense of home to spouses whose husbands are deployed and Marines who aren’t home with their families.
“I’ve seen through these events that MAG-14 hosts that they do try to make time for family through fun, moral-boosting events,” said Wylie. “They understand that getting together with family is very important and they do a great job of keeping relationships strong, even during deployments. “