II Marine Expeditionary Force


II Marine Expeditionary Force

Operational Excellence. Readiness. Standards. Dignity and Respect.

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Marines, Soldiers reach out to African youth

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Denise Johnson | | February 19, 2008

A group of U.S. Marines from Rota Naval Air Station, Spain, and three U.S. Army Soldiers from Grafenwohr, Germany, teamed up to visit local youth here Feb. 18 and 19 while deployed as part of Joint Task Force-Nomad Fire.

 The Marines arrived here aboard a C-17A Globemaster III assigned to McChord Air Force Base, Wash., Feb. 16, in support of U.S. President George Bush’s five-nation visit to the continent. The Marines wanted to reach out to the local communities while in Africa, which led to the visit to the school.

 While at the school Feb. 18, the group answered students’ questions and encouraged them to finish school. Some of the children posed tough questions to the Marines regarding politics and history.

 “One of the students asked me how we got our independence, and another wanted to know how President Bush’s visit benefited the Ghanaians,” said Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Brightman, team leader.

 The visitors explained how it’s important to build relationships outside one’s own country, as well as some similarities between the two countries. For example, our presidents both took office at the same time, and both will wrap up their presidencies together. Since the two countries both vote on virtually the same day, the new leaders will also start their terms together. The team also explained the United States and Ghana both gained their independence from Great Britain.

 “Those students are really smart,” said security forces Marine Lance Cpl. Michael Massad. “I was impressed.”

 The group took turns visiting several classrooms, sharing and learning as they went. In one classroom, students discussed what they wanted to do when they grow up. A teenaged girl explained she would like to be a gospel singer. The Marines encouraged her to share one of her songs with them. Before long, the class joined in the chorus, and everyone was clapping and swaying to the young lady’s song.

 The Marines and Soldiers returned to the school the following day and played a scrimmage soccer match against a combined team from the Kotoka, Burma Camp and Garrison Base schools.

 The game ended up being quite a challenge for the Marines and soldiers, as the students took the lead early in the first quarter. The 1–0 lead grew to 5–1 by the time the whistle blew to signal the end of the game.

 “Soccer isn’t really my game,” said Army Staff Sgt. Neil Hatch, a technical inspector with the 5th Maintenance Company. “But I wanted to participate so we both can learn a little more about one another.”

 The Marines and soldiers kicked up quite a bit of dust in their combat boots, but everyone left the field the smiling.

 “What a great day,” said Marine Lance Cpl. Jason Keim, security forces. “I really enjoyed getting out in the community and learning about the Ghanaian culture.”