HIT, Iraq --
Even during the fast tempo of a deployment, Marines do what they can to relax when they get down time.
With the help of Staff Sgt. Ruben Garcia, relaxing has gotten a lot easier for 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5.
Garcia, the Morale, Welfare and Recreation coordinator for 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, has worked hard since arriving at Camp Hit to make the MWR Center a suitable place for Marines to call home and hang out.
“We had 20 computers here and only four were working; and we had five phones and only two were working,” said Garcia, 29, from Hondo, Texas. “Since then, we have set up six more computers and set up another suite, so right now we have 26 computers that are working and 13 phones for the Marines on the camp.”
His initiative hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Marines here. The MWR Center is full of Marines checking e-mail and calling home throughout the day.
“It’s definitely nice knowing that I can call home whenever I get some free time between going out on convoys and training at the camp,” said Lance Cpl. Travis D. Whitaker, 20, a driver with Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Bn., 7th Marines, from Topeka, Kansas
Though phones and computers do help keep the Marines happy, it takes more than just that to boost the morale of hundreds of Marines during a long deployment.
“We’ve been working on morale stuff like getting TVs (and video game systems). Things that we don’t have on this camp to boost the morale of the Marines after work,” said Lance Cpl. Ivan Colon, 21, a company clerk from Portsmith, Va., with Headquarters and Support Co., who assists Garcia in coordinating events and improving the MWR facilities already in place.
Additionally, Garcia and Colon are trying bring entertainers to the multiple camps across the battalion’s area of operation.
“The main thing right now is not just the MWR (Center), but working with outside agencies,” said Garcia. “We’re working on getting some comedians to hopefully come out next month. Hopefully for November and December, we’ll have some things to boost morale for Christmas and Thanksgiving.”
Garcia’s dedication to helping the Marines is about more than just entertainment, it’s about making sure that even though they are deployed, they can maintain their relationships back home.
“With what were doing now, and what our mission is, it’s essential for us to have this stuff to keep the Marines busy and to communicate back to home,” Garcia said. “The Marines obviously have lives back home. Some of them are about to have their first child. I’m just trying to do anything and everything I can to get what we need to (to help the morale) of the Marines.”