MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Most wives and girlfriends wouldn’t normally spend their Thursday navigating through a Marine Corps obstacle course, but Amanda Gerth, girlfriend of Sgt. Paul Sharon, did just that.
“I would look up and I would see the next obstacle that I had to go over, thinking ‘Can I jump up there? Can I reach that? Can I really do this?’” Gerth said, “I just kept telling myself I could do it. I felt accomplished.”
The obstacle course was just one of many activities that family and friends of the Marines and sailors of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment were able to participate in during Jane Wayne Day, Oct. 27.
The events weren’t only designed to let participants have fun. They were also designed to teach them what Marines actually do. For many, that meant starting the day with close order drill.
“My favorite and least favorite part had to be drill,” said Tricia Gilchrist, wife of Sgt. Scott Gilchrist. “It was very challenging and I feel like I learned a lot, but at the same time I was frustrated because I wanted to be so good at it. My husband can do it like it’s nothing, so why should it be so difficult for me?”
The spouses and girlfriends were also taught weapons safety procedures and proper firing positions. The guests were each given 15 rounds to fire, and they competed for the best score.
“It’s loud, but it is pretty awesome,” Gilchrist said. “It’s a cool feeling to be able to go home and say ‘I did this, and this is what you do all day.’”
The event served a greater purpose than just educating and entertaining the spouses and girlfriends.
“Today is an important day,” said Kimberly Reese, the family readiness officer for the battalion. “This is truly an investment for our spouses to build relationships, because the spouses that they meet today might be the spouse who is standing beside them and supporting them through the next deployment.”
Spouses and friends weren’t the only ones to get value out of the day’s activities. The Marines were able to teach their spouses and girlfriends why their jobs are important.
“I believe this helps save Marine lives because when they are deployed they know they have a supporting wife at home,” said Staff Sgt. Manuel Lennon, ordnance chief, Headquarters and Service Company. “The husband knows when he is overseas or in country that his wife is taken care of by another Marine’s wife, that they are close friends, and they are supporting each other.”
The participants also used the Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer and ate Meals Ready to Eat. Marines helped their spouses work through the obstacle course.
The battalion plans to continue building family relationships.
“Family is important,” Reese said. “A stronger family makes for a focused Marine.”