Posts Tagged ‘usmc’


CAMP PENDLETON -(CA)- About 800 Marines from the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion gathered in front of Camp Pendleton’s San Onofre Community Center to take in the smells of an early Thanksgiving dinner provided by San Clemente Presbyterian Church on Friday.

Peter Carissimo, the church’s head volunteer chef for the event, asked a Marine sergeant waiting in line if it smelled good, kiddingly telling the Marine it was all from Pendleton’s mess hall.

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Marine Cpl. Isaac Rivera, with his wife, Nadica, and daughter Isabella Marie, work their way through the Thanksgiving chow line Friday afternoon.
“Oh, no it isn’t, sir,” the sergeant said. “I work in the mess and it for sure didn’t come out of there.”

San Clemente Presbyterian holds several events every year for its “adopted: Marine unit, but Carissimo said the Thanksgiving meal is by far the most complicated. It brings together about 300 volunteers from all over south Orange County to prepare 100 turkeys, 600 pounds of stuffing and yams and 50 gallons of gravy. Even San Clemente’s Fisherman’s seafood restaurant helped out this year, cooking 28 turkeys in its kitchen.


Volunteers were especially eager to serve this year, knowing that in the coming week, at least one segment of 44 Marines will deploy to Afghanistan.

For Friday’s event, about 40 people served the meal. The youngest volunteer, 5-year-old Abigail Gratteau, helped place tablecloths on long tables set up by Marines earlier in the day.

Maj. Tony Mitchell, executive officer of 1st CEB, spoke to the assembled Marines, counting the things he is most thankful for. But he added some sad news and words of caution – earlier in the morning, a Marine had died in a motorcycle accident on I-5 just outside the Basilone entrance to the base.

“Remember to be thankful for everyone, and especially now with this reminder,” Mitchell said. “There are some pretty sad Marines somewhere on this base right now.”

Event organizer Chuck Herpick, a Navy veteran, thanked the Marines for their service. Then came Carissimo, known by 1st CEB members for his hand in a recent spaghetti dinner.

“We enjoy doing what we do for all of you because we know and won’t forget what you all do for us and protecting our country,” Carissimo said.

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Former Marine Corps mortarman Cole Bent, 20, of San Juan Capistrano has had a lot of help from the community as he battles back from surgery to remove two brain tumors.


SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO -(CA)- Cole Bent has big plans. A book on Egypt sits on his nightstand in San Juan Capistrano to help him prepare for his planned visit there. He plans to go to South America as well, though he doesn’t have a book about it yet.

This might not be unusual for a lot of 20-year-olds, but for Bent and his parents, Brian and Rivka, and his younger sister, Esther, it’s big news.

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Cole Bent receives physical therapy at the Ole Hanson Beach Club in San Clemente, where he gets donated pool time.

It has been about seven months since Bent, an Eagle Scout and former Marine Corps mortarman, was diagnosed with ependymoma, a form of cancer mostly seen in young children. Surgeons at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo removed two golf ball-size tumors from alongside Bent’s brainstem March 14, four days after he blacked out during a tennis game. Doctors told him before the surgery that his chance of survival was 20 percent.

His comeback owes much to his neighbors in the community, who have helped him and his family at every turn.


Having been told by his doctors that physical therapy would be essential to his recovery, Bent’s family decided to move him into Esther’s room and find help for him. Bent was experiencing poor stability, swallowing, coordination, strength, balance and sight, as well as a 30-pound weight loss within three months after the surgery. His mother thought getting him into a swimming pool would be a good place to start therapy.

The Ole Hanson Beach Club in San Clemente was the first stop, and within a short time, Bent was in the pool and working out, courtesy of Vickie Mierau, a retired aquatic therapist, using pool time donated by swim instructors Debra Thurn and Kayne Schroeder.

That was just the beginning of the community effort, Rivka Bent said. As the family began the endless task of copying and faxing medical records, insurance claims and other documents to providers, the Marine Corps and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Bill and Susan Odelson of Paper Annex in San Juan Capistrano ran “Cole’s tab,” which always has a zero balance.

Then there are the good Samaritans all over south Orange County whom the Bents know only by their first name: Greg at Staples, Buddy at Frio Yogurt, Arthur at The Old Barn, to name a few.

Even man’s best friend has made a mark – Galena Creek Kennels Siberian Huskies in Roseburg, Ore., gave a therapy dog, Piper, as a companion for Bent’s therapy.

Bent, a lance corporal in the weapons section of the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines based at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, began to experience nausea, dizziness and problems with concentration after his unit was deployed to Afghanistan in June 2010. Three months later, a visiting medical officer noticed his problems and sent Bent home a month ahead of his unit.

Bent was discharged in early February before he knew about his actual condition, his family said. He is still working out the details of his separation from the Marine Corps and currently does not have veteran’s benefits.

Brian Bent, an artist specializing in fashion and design, has been able to cover much of his son’s $1.5 million in medical-treatment costs through his employer’s insurance, Anthem Blue Cross, though the family is still facing a pile of unpaid household and ancillary medical bills.

“I wish I had a spare $50,000 lying around,” Rivka Bent said. “I could sure use it.”

Though he moves slowly and speaking is tiring for him, Cole Bent’s condition is improving by the day – not that he’s giving himself a choice. He has a medal he wants to pass on to someone else who is recovering from a crisis.

The medal was given to him in June by double amputee Harry Snowden of San Juan Capistrano, who received it after completing his first lap around the Saddleback College track on prosthetic legs in 2009. Snowden was given the medal by stroke survivor Fermin Camarena, who is paralyzed on one side of his body and is now a recumbent-bicycle competitor. He received the medal for completing the 2008 Loma Linda University Medical Center Poss-Abilities 5K Walk/Run/Roll triathlon.

Bent met both at Saddleback College while he was taking a physical-therapy class. The medal is engraved with the names of its recipients, along with the year they got it.

“We are focusing on the good things, like the fact that this whole thing happened here and we can help Cole, and how appreciative we are of our community,” Rivka Bent said. “It really takes a village.”

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A helping hand from Dad.



CAMP PENDLETON -(CA)- More than 700 Marine families at Camp Pendleton received free back-to-school supplies, clothes and shoes over the weekend, courtesy of area chapters of the Assistance League, a national nonprofit organization.

For several hours Saturday and Sunday, families, assisted by personal shoppers, made the rounds at the San Onofre Community Center at the Marine base, selecting notebooks, pens, paper, hygiene kits with toothbrushes and toothpaste, and two complete school outfits for boys and girls from kindergarten to 12th grade. Goods worth about $75,000 were distributed.

Marine kids hit the rack.

Marine Sgt. Natan Nagler helps his son Andrew, 6, pick out a pair of jeans during the Assistance League’s back-to-school charity event at the San Onofre Community Center at Camp Pendleton.

“It’s brilliant; the families are so grateful,” said former British Royal Marine Anthony Kay of Oceanside, now a U.S. Marine Corps community-service recreational assistant at Camp Pendleton. “The organization, with time slots and appointments, makes everything run smoothly.”


Already a long day and it's only been 15 minutes.

Ann Steinhilper, Assistance League of Capistrano Valley chapter chairwoman for Camp Pendleton, said six other chapters also participated to make this year’s back-to-school event the biggest since it began five years ago. The Laguna BeachSaddleback Valley, Temecula Valley, Rancho San Dieguito, North Coast San Diego and Inland North Coast (San Diego) chapters joined Capistrano Valley, each working about 50 hours over two weeks to assemble the project. Steinhilper said each chapter was responsible for selecting, purchasing and delivering goods to the Community Center, using money raised throughout the year at fundraisers and donation drives, as well as through grants for nonprofits.

Shaylee Wallace, 13, of Oceanside welcomed the effort with a big smile, saying what a help the new clothes would be this school year.

Danielle Kidder, 12, attended with her father, Marine Staff Sgt. Warren Kidder of the 7th Engineer Support Battalion. She said she was happy with the two new tops she got, especially a bright purple sweat shirt.


New jeans are definitely worth a big smile

Sheri Burns, a Marine Corps community-service worker who has a son in the Marines, said there’s no doubt the event raises the spirits of Marine families and expresses how the surrounding community appreciates what the Marines do for their country.

“It’s just a good thing to do, and giving things is another way for people to say ‘Thank you’ to the families of the deployed Marines,” Burns said. “It really helps out.”

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Bring'n it in.

CAMP PENDLETON -(CA)- The San Clemente Heritage Foundation, which supports Semper Fi Park, The Marine Monument, attended an open house, along with City of San Clemente officials and Chamber of Commerce members, hosted by the foundation’s adopted US Marine Helicopter Light Attack Squadron, “Scarface” (Hover Cover)- HMLA 367, at Camp Pendleton on Friday morning.

Big shoulders for a big job.

Guests were briefed by Marine pilot, and 2010 Marine Aviator of the Year, Captain Gregory Youngberg, on the squadron’s history, equipment, mission and capability.  The group was also addressed by Squadron Commanding Officer and past Marine Aviator of the Year, Lt. Col. Carlton Hasle, explaining the unit’s distinction in leading the largest Helicopter operation since the Vietnam War, in Marjah, Afghanistan during their last deployment in 2010.

Don't tread on me.

The group was shown how Marine Corps pilots are trained with night vision goggles and actually got to test them out in specially designed “dark rooms” complete with small scaled terrain models that display roads, bridges, buildings, hills and forests as seen by chopper pilots in flight.

US Marines as a general rule, improvise, adapt and overcome.

Attendees were also shown and allowed to “fly” in the same flight simulators Marine pilots spend up to several hours a week to fine tune and sharpen their skills.

Chamber of Commerce member and former Marine, Burton Brown, “flew” second seat in a Huey Cobra simulator gunship with only a little help and a proud handshake afterwards from 367 Marine pilot Captain Ferrone. “Scarface” HMLA 367 is the first and only squadron in the US military to have the newest upgraded four bladed Huey “Yankee” utiltiy helicopter and the Huey “Zulu” Cobra gunships along with a state of the art flight simulator for each chopper.  The upgrade basically takes the regular two blade models, commonly recognized in any Vietnam war movie, adding two more blades, giveing the aircraft more power, lift and stability, which is a critical with the latest technology advances in weaponry.

Civilian Simulator Program Director and former Marine Helicopter pilot, Jack Welch, says the units cost about 20 million dollars each and have been on the drawing board for last 15 years.

“No one else in the world has this, and they won’t…it’s all made in the United States because we are the best…no one in the world can compare.” Welch said.

Practice makes perfect.

Squadron CO, Lt. Col. Hasle presented San Clemente Mayor Lori Donchak with a large glass framed “Thank You” with photos, patches and signed by everyone from “Scarface” HMLA 367, stating how much the City’s support means to the unit, while committing to speaking again at the City’s 4th of July festivities.

“Last year they said it would be around 400 people, and it was more like 10,000, so even though I am a little suspicious, I’ll be there.” Lt. Col. Hasle said with a big smile.

Its got to be something to do with the uniform.

Finally, the group was taken out to the flight line through the unit’s hanger bay to watch as squadron choppers were brought in, landing so that everyone could climb inside and check them out and ask questions first hand.  Chamber of Commerce member Steve Ynzunza said he is absolutely sure the Marines put taxpayer monies to good use after what he saw on Friday morning.

A group for all seasons.

“We see these same helicopters fly over San Clemente, up the coast all the time and you just can’t really see what they are actually all about until you are this close, its just amazing.” Ynzunza said.

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Author, Sequoia Beckman

SAN CLEMENTE,  -(CA)- Sequoia Beckman was more than a little lonely after his stepfather was deployed to Afghanistan in October with a Marine Corps unit from Camp Pendleton. The feeling intensified when members of his stepdad’s unit came back wounded.

So the 11-year-old, a student at Camp Pendleton’s San Onofre School, published a book called “Arthur and the Brave Knights of Camelot” and is donating all sales proceeds to injured Marines through the Semper Fi Fund. He has raised more than $500 so far and hopes for more with the second edition.

“My stepdad’s a Marine, I live on base, and it makes sense,” Sequoia said.

His efforts caught the attention of Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit assistance group for military families that made Sequoia one of 20 semifinalists nationwide for the 2011 Military Child of the Year Award in the Marine Corps division. Finalists are scheduled to be announced Friday, with a winner in each of the five branches of military service to be chosen Wednesday.

Each award recipient will get $5,000 and a place in a recognition ceremony April 7 in Washington, D.C.

Sequoia loves to read and is especially interested in anything from medieval times, according to his mother, Sherry Simburger. And with his stepfather, Sgt. Major Karl Simburger, deployed to Afghanistan, she said it wasn’t a big surprise that he wrote his book about knights and dragons – characters derived from the classic literary theme of good guys vs. bad guys.

Beckman’s Book, Arthur and The Brave Knights of Camelot.

Sequoia wrote the book and enlisted fellow San Onofre student Charlotte McGhee, 13, to do the artwork because he thought she had a special feeling for dragons. He insisted on getting a publisher, a copyright and an International Standard Book Number, or ISBN, which commercial booksellers use to identify books for sale.

The first edition of 100 copies has already sold out, thanks to his mother’s Facebook announcement to friends and family.

In February at the annual Marine West Expo in San Diego, a demonstration of Marine Corps aviation, Sequoia and McGhee promoted the book and signed copies.

Sherry Simburger says Sequoia asks her each day for details about the book’s sales. When someone in Ohio who was not a family member or friend bought the book, he felt he had become a real author, she said.

“Sequoia held back at first and was complaining a little bit that people were not buying the book. So I told him he had to grab each person and sell it,” Simburger said. “And so he really got into it. He attached himself to every person who came by, even some Marine Corps generals, and if they didn’t buy on the way in, he got them on the way out.”

Sequoia’s fifth-grade teacher, April Pezman, said he has an amazing gift for writing. He often could be found working on his book during lunch and recess and is already working on the sequel, she said.

“The class was amazed when Sequoia walked in with his real published book. After he read it to them, they had looks of astonishment,” Pezman said. “He proved that dreams can come true. I am very proud of him.”


“Arthur and the Brave Knights of Camelot” can be purchased for $10 at arthur-and-the-brave-knights.blogspot.com

The Register article:

Pendleton Marine’s son up for Military Child of Year | book, sequoia, marine – News – The Orange County Register

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Thanks for the cozy blanket.

CAMP PENDLETON, -(CA)- Donated diapers, wipes and clothes for 574 children of military personnel rolled into Camp Pendleton on Thursday morning, courtesy of the Assistance League of Capistrano Valley.

And Tia Thorpe, manager of the San Onofre Community Center, where the goods were distributed, is glad they did.

“It benefits the families, so it’s a good thing. But it also shows that other people care outside the military. It hasn’t always been that way,” Thorpe said. “The families really appreciate it.”

According to Ann Steinhilper of San Juan Capistrano, chairwoman of the local Assistance League’s “Chapters for Children,” the organization holds three distribution days a year for different age groups, including a “back to school” day in August. The group raises funds through lunches, mailers, website donations and federal and state grants.

Steinhilper says the group focuses on the north end of the Camp Pendleton Marine base, where extra help isn’t as widely available because of its remoteness. The league purchases the diapers and wipes in addition to providing two complete outfits for each child. The cost comes to about $14 per child.

Checking it out.

Two new programs include volunteers knitting and sewing and making quilts and sweaters for toddlers. The Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center in Mission Viejo provided handmade sweaters this year, and Heart to Heart, a Long Beach group, sent handmade quilts.

Many mothers have been to the event more than once, saying the help makes a difference with their husbands away for up to a year on deployment.

Christina Blackwell visited for the first time with her children, Emmalin, Elsa and Ashlyn, and slowly walked among the tables full of clothes and quilts. Elsa and Ashlyn quickly wrapped themselves in a multicolored afghan Blackwell picked out for them.

“These women (volunteers) are great, and the things they do for our families is amazing,” Blackwell said.

Marine Sgt. Ruchir Patel made his fifth visit, this time to help distribute diapers and wipes, load cars and clean up.

“I utilize the program myself. I have four kids, and I’m here because I want to give back,” Patel said with a smile.

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