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    Marine Week Seattle: A Month in Review

    USA's best offense meets NFL's best defense

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Christopher O'Quin | A Marine with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, rises from the surf...... read more read more

    MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, CA, UNITED STATES

    09.09.2014

    Story by Sgt. Christopher O'Quin 

    13th Marine Expeditionary Unit   

    SEATTLE - The Marine Corps is meticulous with its funding and resources. This is because its annual budget is shared with the Navy. This in turn means it must make the right investments. So when the Corps arrived in Seattle, July 26, 2014 for Marine Week, it brought with it more than 800 of its own, for the purpose of investing in something that can’t be taxed, traded, sold or bought: trust of the American public.

    Trust and confidence from the American public is what has carried the Marine Corps for 239 years and Marine Week Seattle serves as one more way trust was earned and fostered. The Corps is known for deploying to many distant countries in an effort to spread goodwill and influence. Now more than ever, the Marine Corps should shift its attention toward home, to give the public an insight into who is keeping them safe.

    “Marine Week is a win for the Marine Corps because it allows us to interact intimately the American people in ways that would never be possible otherwise,” said Marine Capt. Jeremy Buker, Marine Week Seattle liaison officer, who had broad oversight over the entire event. “Most of the population has heard of the Marine Corps and may even have some familiarity with it. By and large though, there are broad swaths of people who have never experienced the Marine Corps up close and personal. They have never had the chance to clean up a local park working shoulder to shoulder with Marines, experience the Marine Corps silent drill platoon, or lay a wreath in honor of the fallen Marines from their city and state.”

    Major Dave Romley (USMC retired), one of the founders of Marine Week, put the first ideas on paper with then Gunnery Sgt. Travis Antoine more than five years ago. The purpose of this event was to bring about a connection with the American people in places where it does not have a large scale presence. Chicago became the first city to host Marine Week in 2009, followed by Boston in 2010, St. Louis in 2011 and Cleveland in 2012. Marine Week was cancelled in 2013 because of sequestration and the implementation of the Budget Control Act.

    So for this year’s Marine Week, the Corps needed to get creative in organizing and scheduling demonstrations and events in the Emerald City. Boeing Museum of Flight hosted most of the static displays and command operations center, helping to reduce costs while providing necessary space. The Seattle Seahawks also invited service members to attend practice during their training camp at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. The Marines not one to pass up an opportunity, arrived true to Marine fashion.

    During the Seahawks practice and Seattle Seafair days, Marines from 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, demonstrated their tactical insertion skills with helocasting, which can best described as jumping out the back of a moving CH-53E “Super Stallion” helicopter into the water, something even Call of Duty hasn’t thought to replicate yet.

    Marines from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band, performed at key Seattle landmarks and marched throughout the city. Marines had the opportunity to enjoy Seattle Mariners and Sounders home games. Static displays at the Boeing Museum of Flight gave the public the opportunity to climb on an amphibious assault vehicle, one of its trademark platforms. Curious minds with questions were met with cheerful Marines, eager to answer what people wanted to know about the smallest branch of their U.S. Military.

    “It was a great experience talking to the Marines and checking out all the new equipment,” said Bill Springer, a Des Moines, Wash., native and Marine veteran. “During the set up at Boeing Field, many people were asking questions about the Marine Corps and the equipment they were working with. The [Marines] were professional and very knowledgeable and explained what it did and how it worked.”

    While western Washington itself is home to the Navy, Army, Coast Guard and Air Force, the only Marine presence is limited to reserve detachments and security elements that share space with the other services on installations such as Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

    More than a month prior to Marine Week, a Gallup Poll was taken of Seattle citizens. Additional Gallup poll was taken after Marine Week’s conclusion, the purpose being to gauge the effects of Marine Week on the city. The numbers themselves reflected improvement in the way the city perceives Marines.

    Before Marine Week, 15 percent of more than 300 people polled, believed the Marine Corps is the premier maritime response force. The post Marine Week poll showed a jump up to 36 percent, improving by 21 percent. When asked if they felt the Marine Corps protects and secures America’s interests at a cost Americans can afford, it too jumped up, from 16 percent, to 37 percent post, also an improvement of 21 percent. This can be attributed to advertising and communication before, during and after Marine Week.

    Unaided awareness and familiarity for the Marine Corps remains unchanged since the first poll, staying at 83 percent. However there was also a decrease in favorable opinion. When polled on people’s perception of the Corps as the most prestigious of the branches, there was a decrease of two percentage points, from 49 to 47 percent. Regardless of opinion, one thing is certain; the Marine Corps still has work to do, to clear up misnomers, showcase its expeditionary capabilities and learn how to effectively communicate what it is they exactly do.

    “The public gets to meet Marines and see they are normal people doing a very difficult job,” added Springer. “Their professionalism and their appearance, in addition to the silent drill team made feel proud to be a Leatherneck during this once in a rare opportunity.”

    Perhaps the most important way trust and confidence is earned from tax paying citizens is through the fiscal responsibility and transparency. In planning Marine Week Seattle, the Corps considered today’s fiscal constraints, and adopted a new operating model, teaming up with Seafair and the City to reduce costs. With consideration to the fiscal environment and the Corps responsibility to connect to the American public, the Secretary of Defense approved Marine Week’s budget for $3.6 million for FY2014. This in turn, makes up a significantly small portion of the Corps annual budget of $24.9 Billion.

    The numbers and data show positive results. Budgets and polls give everyone a sense of progress. Behind those numbers and opinions still remains the human element. Someone who never before shook hands with a Marine, saw their capabilities or even shared a pint, now has a better understanding of the men and women wearing the Eagle, Globe and Anchor.

    “Not just cleaning up a park, but going to a school or going to a hospital you get a lot more interaction,” said Lt. Col. Joseph B. Lagoski, commanding officer of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. “Giving that Marine a chance to tell his story is an important part of that. But taking time out of your day, going out and giving back to the people hosting us is how you have the greatest impact.”

    Hundreds of Marines played a part in the successes of Marine Week. A city now sees the Marine Corps for what it is: a prestigious branch of the U.S. military always ready to meet tomorrow’s challenges and uncertain threats

    The American public needs to know who is safeguarding life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and how they are kept safe. Trust from the American public isn’t a commodity nor is it owed to the Corps, but for those who’ve worn the uniform and those who’ve paid the ultimate price on the altar of freedom; it is an investment worth continuing to fight for.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 09.09.2014
    Date Posted: 09.09.2014 12:44
    Story ID: 141575
    Location: MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, CA, US 

    Web Views: 202
    Downloads: 1

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