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3d Marine Division

The Fighting Third

Okinawa, Japan
Spouses and family learn what it takes to be a U.S. Marine

By Nelson Duenas and Cpl. Tyler Giguere | III Marine Expeditionary Force | March 19, 2016

CAMP SCHWAB, Japan - On March 18, 2016, Combat Assault Battalion conducted a “John and Jane Wayne Day” event to show military spouses, family members and friends the vital role they play in the Battalion’s mission while in the pacific theatre at Camp Schwab, Okinawa Japan.

Participants experienced equipment, firearms, vehicles and food that are dynamic facets of life in the Marine Corps. This included an Amphibious Assault Vehicle raid, firing the M16-A4 service rifle, firing the M9 service pistol, firing the M240B medium machine gun, wearing flak jackets with Kevlar helmets and eating packaged military rations.

“The purpose of this John and Jane Wayne Day event is to provide a realistic demonstration for the families of the combat assault battalion core missions,” said Robert A. Moreno, the family readiness officer for Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

With the sound of gunfire ringing in their ears, gear weighing down on their shoulders and the intense Okinawa heat, the spouses gained more of an appreciation for what their family members and friends experience as Marines.

“Typically a civilian doesn’t understand why you need to leave in the middle of the school year or during an important event,” said Master Sgt. Hareko Keel, a utilities chief with CAB. “But with today’s training they gain a better understanding of our lives, of deployment.”

Having been a military spouse for 19 years, Tomoko Keel was able to experience her first ever AAV ride.

“It is very difficult for a service member to live life without close bonds," said Tomoko Keel, spouse of Master Sgt. Hareko Keel. “The military spouses are able to offer that through our large social network. We come together to help one another through deployments and other strenuous difficulties that face active duty military.”

The event had service members ranging between lieutenant colonel and lance corporal. They joined in the day’s activities to provide encouragement and support to family members and guests from many different backgrounds.

“This event was open to all Marines, sailors, family and friends over the age of 17. We had local nationals, families, aunts, uncles, friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, and fiancés,” said Moreno, from Moore, Oklahoma.

Every year, the event presents new obstacles and challenges allowing family members and friends to experience walking in a Marines’ shoes, or in this case, combat boots for a day.

“When we state ‘John and Jane Wayne Day’ we were not thinking that it was specific towards just families,” said Moreno. “We were thinking that it is open to everyone. So if a young marine or sailor that is unaccompanied and has a friend, they can invite them.”

“I want to make sure we are open to the widest possible range of people,” said Moreno.

Upcoming events include the “King of the Beach” party for senior unaccompanied sailors and Marines on Camp Schwab, May 6th, as well as a kid’s fun run on May 7th at Torii Beach.