MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Hundreds of Marines and their family members gather under tents as they patiently wait for the next “big show” to begin after seeing the power behind the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, the M777A2 Howitzer, and a crew-served weapons demonstration. As dust begins to swirl into the air and echoes of excitement ripple through the crowd, an AH-1Y Cobra helicopter flies into view and precisely sends rounds down range at various targets.
Marines of 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division and their families attended a Jane Wayne Day event on Camp Pendleton July 16, 2016.
“I wanted to let them experience what the Marines do on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis as a sign of appreciation for all of their support,” said Lt. Col. Scott Weis, the commanding officer of 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment. “Without the support of our families, we just wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”
Not only do Jane Wayne Day events provide knowledge and a hands-on experience of what the Marines go through each day, it gives the Marines an opportunity to bond with their loved ones.
“I know the husbands were really excited to get their spouses and extended family out there to see this because it’s something they take pride in,” said Jessica Page, the family readiness officer for 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment.
Jayne Wayne Days and family expos often feature some level of interaction for spouses and children, including trying on tactical gear, handling some weaponry and maybe some physical exertion on an obstacle course or a hiking trail.
The minds behind this Jane Wayne Day event took it to a whole new level.
By integrating both the air and ground combat elements of the Corps, the Marines and their families were able to witness the way Marines are famous for fighting – as an air-ground team.
“I wanted to show them more than your stereotypical Jane Wayne Day,” Weis said. “They saw everything from communications, to transportation, to artillery surface fire, to direct fire weapons, to close air support.”
With the help of several units, 5th Battalion, 11th Marines was able display the significance of ground combat effectiveness with the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, the M777A2 Howitzer live fire event and the crew-served weapons demonstration.
Pilots with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Training Squadron 303 also displayed the importance of air combat power with one UH-1Y Huey helicopter, two AH-1W Cobra helicopters and one AH-1Z Cobra helicopter during the “helicopter gun run” event.
“Seeing the rockets and the helicopters was a lot of fun,” said Julie Williams, mother of Cpl. Justin Still, a motor vehicle operator with 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment. “I gained more knowledge of what the military does—especially this unit—and what my son does.”
After the live fire events, the crowd enjoyed a barbecue and viewed static displays of multiple vehicles, helicopters, and weapons, where they were able to have all of their questions answered.
“Showing up to a Jane Wayne Day – you could know nothing about the Marine Corps and you could at least walk away with an appreciation for what the Marine Corps is capable of doing,” Weis said.
To wrap up the day, family members made their way out to the rifle range with their flak jackets, Kevlar helmets and ear protection to shoot the M4 carbine.
“I think the biggest thing they can take away is an appreciation for what their Marine or Sailor does,” Weis said.