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1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment flies Newport Beach flag

23 Feb 2006 | Cpl. William Skelton

Marines from 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment have a new dash of color in the skies here.

The flag of the City of Newport Beach, Calif., flies below the national ensign, snapping in the breeze here.  It’s a tribute to the partnership between the battalion’s Marines and the coastal southern California city.

Newport Beach officially adopted 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment in December 2003. Many of the committee members are former Marines, some of whom served in the battalion.

“Everyday someone goes out and raises the flag and with it the Newport Beach flag,” said Maj. Bill Wischmeyer, the 39-year-old battalion executive officer from San Diego. “We do it to pay tribute to all of the many things Newport Beach does to support the battalion.”

The partnership began when Timothy J. Sloat, a businessman and former member of the battalion from Laguna Beach, Calif., approached the battalion in August 2003 with the idea of adopting them.

Sloat explained that Col. Brian Beaudreault, now the commanding officer for the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, was the battalion commander at the time and agreed with Sloat and the rest is history.

Sloat said in an e-mail interview that the partnership was natural.

“I selected Newport Beach because of its demographics, its relative proximity to Horno, and its restaurants, hotels, beaches and many other amenities which could all be supportive,” of the battalion’s Marines, he said.

The reaction by the adoption committee to learn their city’s flag flies in Iraq with the battalion was one of pride and awe.

Steve Bromberg, a 62-year-old judge with the Orange County Superior Court said in an e-mail he was pleasantly stunned to hear the news and delighted with the battalion’s gesture.

“What could I or members of the Committee possibly think about that?,” he asked.  “We are so proud … and now they fly our flag,” he said.  “On a personal note, I am so proud of that and that says it all.”

Newport Beach is familiar to many of the Marines in 1st Battalion.

Some of the Marines of the battalion travel up to Newport Beach on occasion to enjoy the atmosphere and beaches. Flying the city’s flag is a touch of home for them in the middle of a combat zone.

“I’ve been up to Newport Beach a few times since I’ve been in California,” said Lance Cpl. Steven J. Kalchik, a 22-year-old administrative clerk from Buffalo, N.Y. “It’s kind of cool to see their flag flying when we are so far away from home.”

Newport Beach’s support for 1st Battalion continues even today, while their Marines are deployed halfway around the world.  The city routinely extends themselves to help on small and large projects, Wischmeyer explained.

“Our unwritten mission is to assist our Marine neighbors as they are our neighbors,” Bromberg explained.  “Camp Horno is about 40 minutes from Newport Beach.”

“Support has ranged from providing personnel and/or families airline tickets and travel expenses within the U.S. and abroad during emergency situations to hosting a battalion picnic for the Marines and families at Lake O’Neill,” Sloat said.

The city went as far as to assist a Marine’s family during a previous deployment when a Marine was being medically evacuated, Bromberg explained. The Marine Corps contacted family indicating the situation was severe. Marines could fly them to Singapore, but housing would be on their own.

“We supplied the family with a substantial amount of money to spend as much time as necessary with their Marine,” Bromberg said. “We gave them a number to call if they needed more.”

Sloat explained the sentiments aren’t just those on the city council and the adoption committee, but is also shared by the residents in the Newport Beach community.

“The response from residents of Newport Beach and also of the surrounding areas has been outstanding,” Sloat said. “People in general want to support the Corps.  All they need is to simply be given a way.”

The flag’s long journey will end in a special place when the battalion returns from their current deployment to Iraq.  Marines from 1st Battalion plan to bring the flag home when they complete the deployment and present it to city officials upon completion of their Iraq tour.

“The flag will then be displayed in perpetuity in the City Council chambers with a plaque identifying its history,” Sloat explained.

There are plans to continue to cement the bonds between the city and their adopted Marines as well.

“We will take the issues of need as they arise,” Bromberg said. “We continue to work with the families at home. There will also be another Mess Night, probably in October.  We will assist the families and the Marines in any manner that we can.”