SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. -- As the sun rose over the hills of San Juan Capistrano, Marines serving with 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, were already up and hard at work here, May 23.
The Marines provided assistance backed by elbow grease to local citizens by beautifying their community center, cleaning up their town by picking up trash and demonstrating what the battalion does on an everyday basis.
“Today we came up here to give back to the community of San Juan Capistrano and improve our relationship with them,” said Sgt. Maj. Daniel Krause, the sergeant major of 1st Bn., 11th Marines.
The Battalion was adopted by San Juan Capistrano making it their parent city. The city helps out the Marines by performing events such as toy drives, providing financial assistance to the battalion for special events, and even welcoming home Marines from deployments.
The Marines set up several stations at the San Juan Capistrano community center and sports park for the local citizens to get an idea of what life is like for the artillerymen.
Among the stations was a combat fitness test course where Marines guided elementary school students through the course giving them a taste of Marine physical requirements.
The Marines also demonstrated Marine Corps Martial Arts Program moves to the children and gave them a chance to try out some of the moves.
The artillerymen gave a class on the basics of how to coordinate a fire mission and how they prepare the M777 Lightweight Howitzer for firing.
“The purpose of this is to reach out to the kids and families of San Juan Capistrano and really show them what life is like for the Marines and create a bond between them,” said Nori Jackson, the family readiness officer for 1st Bn., 11th Marines.
The Marines chose to help improve the community center because of the vital role it plays to the city.
“The community center is very important to the local citizens giving the children a place to hang out after school and keeping them away from problems such as gangs and drugs,” said Krause, a native of Windsor, Colo.
The Marines started by working to improve the local garden by planting new flowers and plants. They also painted the inside of the Boys and Girls Club, which provides children a safe environment after school and on the weekends, giving them a chance to participate in sports and youth camps.
“This is a way for us to give back to the city for everything they have done for our regiment,” said Lt. Col. John McDonough, the commanding officer of 1st Bn. 11th Marines.
The families and children of San Juan Capistrano said they were appreciative of the work the Marines did for them. They showed their appreciation by providing the Marines with a large dinner after they finished their work.
“We’re really doing this for the families of the city. We are all just happy to help them in return for everything they have done for us,” said McDonough, a native of St. Louis.