News: Autumn Fest a success for Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 13 Marines
Story by Cpl. Ryan Joyner
NAVAL AIR STATION SIGONELLA, Italy – The annual Autumn Fest took place aboard Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy. The annual event brought in more than 2,000 local Italians to view the air station and interact with the Marines and sailors.
The two-day event was a great way for Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 13 Marines to interact with the locals and explain their role here in Sigonella.
“This year was the first time the Marines had made their presence known and setup a display,” said Capt. Jake Grader, future operations officer with the task force from Marblehead, Mass.
The gates were opened and a crowd of Italians made their way on the air station to celebrate the coming of autumn and Halloween and interact with those who call NASSIG home.
The Marines with the task force set up different displays for the guests to examine.
An Internally Transportable Vehicle, a lightweight multipurpose vehicle similar to a Jeep, was part of a static-display for the locals to checkout and take pictures with and inside. There were many interested eyes on the ITV as Marines answered various questions from the locals.
Along with the ITV, display gear and packs were set out for guests to have a better understanding of what gear Marines carry and give a glimpse into the Marines’ lives by allowing the guests to try on different pieces of gear.
Radio operators made their way through the crowd showcasing the communication capabilities to the Italians by performing radio checks with locals.
As a way to raise funds for the upcoming Marine Corps Birthday Ball in November, the task force sold unit t-shirts, patches and coins as well as set up a simulated grenade toss game with candy prizes.
“The biggest hit for the kids was the mock grenade toss,” said Sgt. Joshua Bush, a combat engineer with the task force from Knoxville, Tenn.
For the toss, a sandbag bunker was setup, and while wearing a Kevlar helmet and flak jacket the participants had to throw a simulated grenade toward a small target with rings made from glow-sticks around the center. The closer participants tossed the simulated grenade to the center the greater the prizes they received. Prizes ranged from fun-size candy bars to regular candy bars and a free t-shirt.
“All-in-all, everything went great and I think there is an even better relationship with the locals now,” said Bush.
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