ROBERTSON BARRACKS, Northern Territory, Australia – After numerous, long training evolutions in Australia’s outback, many of the Marines with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin look forward to some much-needed relaxation.
Thanks to the USO’s generous donation of a lounge with new floors, gaming consoles, TVs, furniture and wireless Internet, the Marines only walk a few feet from their rooms to unwind.
Carolyn Harris, regional vice president, USO – Pacific and Valerie Donegan, USO director of IT, traveled to the Top End to see how the Marines and sailors use their amenities and figure out what else they could provide next year’s rotation.
“We had the honor of supporting the first and second rotations,” said Harris. “As we prepare to support the third rotation, we wanted to make sure we have a good assessment of everything that might be needed.”
A tour of Robertson Barracks allowed the USO representatives to speak to MRF-D Marines directly.
“We were able to talk to the Marines about the impact of having the Internet and TVs,” said Donegan. “They said it was one of their only opportunities on base for any type of recreation and a key piece to keeping their morale high.”
Donegan began working with the USO more than five years ago, and said she is just as enthusiastic about their cause as she was her first day.
“Being able to get out to where the service members are and find out all the ways we can help them and make their lives just a little bit easier, is probably the best part,” said Donegan.
The USO has certainly achieved their goal of improving the quality of life for the Marines. Without their support, talking to loved ones back home would be challenging.
“We really like having the Internet. Everyone uses it,” said Lance Cpl. Derrick Wastart, rifleman, Headquarters Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, MRF-D. “We’re really thankful for it, especially because it’s one of our only means of communication to our families. We really appreciate it.”