News: From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Lake Erie
Story by Lance Cpl. Marcin Platek
CLEVELAND – A domestic beach invasion does not happen every day on American shores. However, for the second time in history, residents here will witness the unusual occurrence.
Marines will return to Ohio during Marine Week Cleveland June 11-17.
A mock invasion that took place July 18, 1959, brought nearly 1,200 Marines to a Lake Erie beach during Operation Inland Seas Invasion. The incursion was part of a year-long celebration of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, an international water system. This time, more than 700 Marines will arrive for a different type of celebration.
Marine Week is an annual event that celebrates community, country and Corps in a different city every year. It provides a unique experience that directly connects the American public and Marines, said Lt. Gen. Steven A. Hummer, commander of Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North.
“The event will showcase our amphibious roots and reinforce the understanding of the Marine Corps as America’s Expeditionary Force in Readiness,” he said.
Several demonstrations are planned already, but the list keeps building, said Lt. Col. Michael Hubbard, inspector/instructor of 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, based in Brook Park, Ohio.
A series of shaping events will take place leading up to Marine Week where Marine sports teams, bands and speakers will visit Cleveland to engage with recreational centers, schools, colleges, universities and local businesses. They will be there to showcase various aspects of what Marines do stateside and while forward-deployed.
One of those events is the Marine Week Cleveland Speaker Series, which started in February. During these weekly meetings, senior officers will be holding timely and diverse discussions concerning current and relevant topics to the Corps. The goal of these meetings is to engage the Marine Corps with local businesses and academia while publicizing the event.
The first speaker, Maj. Gen. Ronald Bailey, commander of 1st Marine Division, kicked off the series Feb. 7. Brig. Gen. Vincent R. Stewart, director of intelligence, Headquarters Marine Corps, is scheduled to be the guest for the next event Feb. 15. The series will continue throughout Marine Week.
During Marine Week, Marines will bring their latest technology, state-of-the-art gear and rich history to Cleveland, said Hummer, who is the top officer in charge of conducting the event.
“We’re going to showcase the great items of equipment that the Marine Corps uses as we execute what we do in order to defend our nation,” said Hubbard.
Static exhibits will be displayed throughout Cleveland, but the most interesting will be Marine Air-Ground Task Force Alley that will display all the elements of the force, said Hubbard.
Walking between exhibits, attendees will be able to catch the sounds of Marine Corps Band Quantico, Va., and the Silent Drill Platoon as they perform numerous times throughout the week.
Marine Corps will also team up with local major sports clubs. Some of the festivities planned will include a flag football game, in which Marines will square off against National Football League’s Cleveland Browns, and a night out at the ballpark with Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians.
Attendees will also be able to view and take part in Marine physical training. Passers-by will be able to check out Marine Corps Martial Arts Program demonstrations, engage in clinics with Marine Sports teams and run in the Marine-sponsored five-kilometer run through downtown Cleveland.
“It will all accumulate to a MAGTF demo, which is a small-scale amphibious landing where we are bringing every part of the MAGTF that we use to prosecute the Global War on Terrorism,” said Hubbard. The grand-finale landing with the ground, air and sea elements will take place at the end of the week on the shores of Lake Erie.
Half a million Clevelanders watched the beach assault more than half of century ago, but the events this year are anticipated to bond the Marine Corps with many more people.
The anticipated attendance this year is expected to beat last year’s Marine Week St. Louis turnout, said Hubbard. The MAGTF demo in St. Louis brought about 100,000 people in last two days of last year’s Marine Week.
“Marine Week is our opportunity to connect with Clevelanders and all Americans, thank them for their support and demonstrate why the Marine Corps is America’s Force in Readiness,” said Hummer.
The Marine Corps is honored to give back to the city of Cleveland and the state of Ohio for their enormous support, said Hummer.
With some 9,000 active and Reserve Marines hailing from Ohio, there is a strong military background here.
Cleveland and Ohio have been there for the Marines through an unfortunate time in 2005 when 3/25 lost 46 Marines in Iraq, said Hubbard. They were also there for their Marines once they got back from Afghanistan last year.
To further repay the community, Marines will work in many local neighborhood service projects like community clean-ups, park restorations and housing rebuilds.
Marines will also lay a wreath and give commiseration at the Vietnam memorial each day of the event to honor Cleveland veterans.
The Marines are planning to get involved with the community as much as possible, but the community-relations efforts done throughout the event will not end with Marine Week, said Hubbard.
“We are building lasting relationships that will take us well into decades down the road. We will continue providing community services, ensuring the folks appreciate the Marine Corps,” he said.
Because of the continuing support from Cleveland and the state of Ohio to their service members, the locals will be fortunate to have a chance to see their own Marines taking over their city.
However, an in-country invasion is not an everyday happening for the Marines as well. 2012 will be a memorable year for both the Marines and the city of Cleveland.