A sunset, a river, dinner, and a cruise boat, combined with good company and laughter, made for the ideal date night for hardworking Marines and their spouses.
The Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron (MALS)-26 of Jacksonville, North Carolina, is the supply unit for the Marine Corps Air Station New River. The unit works on the Osprey helicopter squadrons, repairing equipment and providing support. As commanding officer, LtCol Douglas Engel put it, “They can’t fly without us.”
Family Readiness Officer Kristin Jones (FRO) explained that the unit is in constant rotation of deployment, 30 to 60 Marines at a time, to support other units. Currently, there are 50 service members from MALS-26 in Afghanistan, who are due to return this fall. The next group is scheduled to deploy early next year.
The unit loans IAs (individual augmentees) to other units as well. It’s altogether long hours and busy day-to-day service for these Marines. The unit was extremely grateful for the rare opportunity to spend some fun time away from the helicopter base.
“My husband is always working and we rarely get the time to just spend together,” said Veronica, a proud Marine Corps wife. “This was a perfect chance for us to go out together and meet new people.”
One of the couples on the dinner cruise was from Columbia. Ivan joined the Marines four years ago to provide a better life for his wife, Viviania, and their family. They look forward to one day living in Florida. Ivan and Viviania were one of several families that expressed their firm commitment to the Marine Corps and the pride they take in serving our great nation.
One of the 55 attendants wrote Freedom Alliance after the cruise. “In a town full of military people,” Justin said, “you start to feel like just the average Joe. It’s nice to know that there are still people that believe we are so much more than that. We face a lot of uphill battles and small rewards like this mean so much to us. So thank you.”
Another Marine, James, said, “I’m very honored and appreciative to see that people actually care about us and what we do. I’m very touched by the donations….”
Freedom Alliance is thankful for the donors who made the river cruise and other events like this possible. It’s the continual generosity of the American people that lets our service men and women know that we care. The sentiment behind the gift is not lost on them.
Thank you, MALS-26 Marines and families, for your hard work and untold sacrifice!