MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Marines from Camp Pendleton enjoyed a day of rest and relaxation during an afternoon, lakeside barbecue here Jan. 20 as an impending deployment to Iraq creeps up on them in the coming weeks.
With so much focus on training and preparing for combat operations in Iraq, the Marines from Brigade Service Support Group 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, took time out of their busy schedules to play hard after working hard for so long.
"(The barbecue) gives single Marines and families a chance to interact and have some social time in a nice environment before we head out," said Col. Ritch L. Rodebaugh, assistant chief of staff for the 1st MLG's operations and training department.
The day's events at Lake O'Neill, a recreational area aboard the base, came complete with a DJ playing a wide range of music, from hip-hop to contemporary rock, a magician wowing 9-year-olds with his slight of hand, and volleyball on a clear, warm Southern California afternoon. The scene was almost reminiscent of a 4th of July outing with sizzling steaks and burgers cooked by Marines from the unit.
"The barbecue (lets) me sit down with my friends and family one last time, joke around and see other people's kids and family," said Sgt. Jonh A. Saracay, a platoon sergeant for Communications Company, BSSG-1.
The barbecue was more than just chicken legs and potato salad.
"It gives my family a chance to see the people I work with and let them know I am in good hands," said Saracay, who will leave his two children and fiancé here when he deploys.
The gathering at Lake O'Neill was not only about getting together one last time, but it was also about taking a break from the stresses of an upcoming deployment.
"It gives the Marines a chance to kick back and put their feet up before they have to lace up their boots and hit the ground running," said Sgt. Amina T. Clay, Saracay's fiancé and the chief instructor for a Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement Course, where she trains Marines how to operate the Marine Corps' large transportation trucks.
The small talk shared was also an excellent opportunity for some seasoned family members to ease the tension for new military family members whose spouses and parents were deploying for the first time.
"I got the chance to help the people who aren't in the military understand what is going on and what to expect. You just got to stick through it," said Clay.
As babies laughed and spouses shared advice, the Marines of BSSG-1 enjoyed the time away from work to spend time with loved ones and prepare for another tour in Iraq.