News: SMP celebrates 14 years of improving single Marines’ quality of life
Story by Lance Cpl. Kenneth Trotter
IWAKUNI, Japan - Marines and sailors celebrated the 14th birthday of the Single Marine Program at the Hornet’s Nest here Saturday.
Established in 1997, the SMP is a Marine Corps-wide program. Its goal, to provide single or unaccompanied Marines and sailors a place to relax, enjoy their time away from home, and get out and see the sights.
“Mostly, Marines overseas are the ones who benefit from this program,” said Sgt. Edwond M. Henderson, Iwakuni SMP president. “It’s not like when you’re back in the [U.S.] where you can just drive off base.”
For overseas Marines and sailors, along with going off base and offering trips, the SMP tries to serve as an alternative for other activities.
“The SMP is a way for sailors and Marines to have a good time without having to use alcohol,” said Shaun S. Ally, Iwakuni SMP coordinator. “We’re trying to provide a wholesome environment for everyone.”
Sgt. Maj. Drew C. Benson, Marine Aircraft Group 12 sergeant major, and Sgt. Maj. Gerard J. Calvin, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12 sergeant major, offered a few words to commemorate the bash before watching Henderson cut the cake. Benson and Calvin also took part in the activities, offering to be willing recipients of the dunking booth.
Benson said the SMP has always been a willing participant in helping Marines and sailors have a better quality of life within the Marine Corps. The birthday bash had several events for service members to come out and enjoy. The SMP Idol, a play on the television show American Idol, had several people get up and test their luck to win.
The first place winner, Dyrolyn J. Allen, received eight gift cards equaling $200. The second place winner, Chris Larue, received four gift cards totaling $100. Many event attendees clapped and cheered on the contestants as they displayed their musical and dancing abilities. Birthday bashers were also treated to an arm wrestling contest and a non-competitive sumo match.
These are just a few of the things the SMP gives back to the station community for helping make the SMP as successful as it is today, said Ally.
“We want to get the word out even more,” said Ally. “So much is going on. The station command is behind us, supporting us.”
Marines and sailors were appreciative of the time and patience the SMP has put into accommodating them and for providing the opportunity to help celebrate its establishment.
“It means a lot for them to come out here on a hot Saturday afternoon making sure we’re happy,” said Allen. “They’re not obliged to do this for us, but they do it anyway.”
The SMP to continually seeks to find ways to provide opportunities for single or unaccompanied service members not only to enjoy themselves, but present more possibilities to learn and grow.
Japanese language classes are one of the many new agendas the SMP is attempting to make the station residents aware of. Without the voice of the single or unaccompanied Marines and sailors, new programs would never have the chance of being introduced to the station.
“When no one gives any input into what they want to see on station, it hurts them,” said Henderson. “These programs are for them. If enough Marines were to come out and say they want a bus to go to the train station on the weekends, we’d get them a bus.”
The birthday bash finished with Marines and sailors clapping and applauding the efforts the SMP has given to single or unaccompanied service members here. Though the SMP is only 14 years young, it has grown by leaps and bounds, culminating in an environment that caters toward friendship, brotherhood and providing a fun-filled atmosphere for Marines and sailors.