MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — A normal day of work for the deputy chief of Navy chaplains is usually in an office tucked in a corridor of the Pentagon. But today, she was riding in a light armored vehicle and gaining insight about her brothers and sisters in green.
Rear Admiral Margaret Kibben, who is also the Chaplain of the Marine Corps, toured various units with 1st Marine Division here, Aug. 15 and met Marines of various job fields to learn more about the warriors.
“What makes a Marine a Marine is their dignity and their respect,” said Kibben. “I have been in this business for a long time and Marines are the best at what they do.”
She started her day with breakfast with Maj. Gen. Ronald L. Bailey, the commanding general of 1st Marine Division, where they discussed the day she had planned. Her first visit was with 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion.
Lieutenant Col. Howard Hall, the commanding officer of 3rd AABn., greeted Kibben with a display of his amphibious assault vehicles.
Hall said the Marines have done a phenomenal job keeping the 1960s vehicle running.
“It amazed me how much pride these young men took in their work,” Kibben said. “It’s clear to see all the motivation trickles down from their commander.”
After viewing the displays of 3rd AABn., Kibben moved to 11th Marine Regiment where she observed a cannon team load a M777 lightweight Howitzer and simulate a firing mission.
She then visited with 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. The unit fires rockets that can hit targets approximately 190 miles away.
Kibben traveled further into Camp Pendleton to visit with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.
She sat in the driver seat of a light armored vehicle to get a good perspective of the vehicle.
“It takes a lot to be in such a small place,” said Kibben. “I would cramp up and try to get out, but Marines are in this for hours, and that speaks tons about their drive.”
The Marines from 1st LAR brought out protective gear and took Kibben to her next destination, the Infantry Immersion Trainer where Marines train for combat situations.
The IIT was set up to resemble an Afghan town with sounds, smells and realistic avatars which were projected holograms that could be set up in various scenarios to help the Marines during training. Rocket propelled grenade simulators and improvised explosive device simulators were also on display. There were houses that had secret rooms and compartments to hide items and weapons.
“The training these Marines receive pays off,” said Robert Thielen, the site manager for the ITT. “We asked the guys who come back from deployments what they saw. They say that they experience a lot of similar things in combat that they experience here.”
Kibben said she grasped a good appreciation for the training.
“I think every Marine should go to this training facility,” Kibben said. “It’s so realistic, and the way they debrief is extraordinary, because they use the cameras to show exactly what went wrong, and the Marines find the solution with help from the instructors.”
The final stop of her tour was a visit to a training area where Marines from Marine Aircraft Group 16 patrolled through dusty and hilly terrain. Kibben said they came from different job fields, but they all had something in common: determination for mission accomplishment.
“This was one of my favorite events today, because I got to see Marines who don’t usually patrol in the field getting back to their roots,” said Kibben. “I love being able to see those Marines adapt to their environment and new roles effectively.”
Kibben said she was impressed with what the Marines were doing and how much pride they had in their work.
“They all love what they do, and when you put that kind of passion into something, the outcome can’t help but to be great,” Kibben said. “God bless the Marine Corps.”