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Marines with the 1st Marine Division explain the capabilities of different weapon systems and gear they use to community leaders from across Southern California aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 13, 2015. The guests were given an opportunity to experience the training and atmosphere the Marines and Sailors endure on deployment through a demonstration at the Infantry Immersion Training Facility.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Alvin Pujols

1st Marine Division hosts appreciation dinner for community leaders

19 Jun 2015 | Lance Cpl. Alvin Pujols I Marine Expeditionary Force

Throughout the years, communities from across Southern California have adopted units from the 1st Marine Division.







On June 13, 2015, the Marines of the 1st Marine Division came together to thank the communities and organizations with a dinner aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.

But what is a dinner without a show? The guests were given a demonstration of real-world scenarios Marines and Sailors encounter during deployment using the base’s Infantry Immersion Training Facility.

“Today is special because all year long you take care of your Marines and Sailors of your battalions, regiments and organizations, and once a year we invite your communities, church groups and associations and say, ‘thank you,’” said Maj. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, the commanding general of the 1st Marine Division.

The service members came together with their guests and walked through deployment simulations replicating the atmospheres of Afghanistan and Iraq. They experienced notional attacks from insurgents with rocket-propelled grenades, roadside explosives and small arms fire, which involved simulated casualties and local nationals played by role players.

The demonstration gave the guests an authentic look into possible situations Marines and Sailors may endure in a deployed environment.

Seeing what the service members go through makes the community want to work even harder for them, explained Susan Marie Weber, the mayor of Palm Springs, Calif.

The committee leaders were treated to a traditional military-style field mess dinner prepared by Marine cooks to further enhance the sense of camaraderie following the day’s events. Each organization was presented with awards for their support by their coinciding units.

The relationship between the units and their respective community leaders is a competition of who can give the most, with both sides always willing to answer the call for help from the other, said Larry Sundram, the district governor for the Vista Rotary Club.

“The support we receive from the communities, organizations and church groups is invaluable to the Marines and Sailors of the 1st Marine Division,” said Nicholson. “It truly makes a difference when a Marine who is unable to head to his home for the holidays can still feel at home with the neighboring communities.”

Camaraderie is part of the brotherhood service members share from the day they enlist. The communities and organizations from across southern California have extended that feeling outside the gates of Camp Pendleton. The 1st Marine Division is grateful for the communities who are always willing to help service members with anything from baby wipes in care packages to providing a home during the holidays.