And even though the Marines of Headquarters Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 8, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), are not in America, they often times do their best to recreate a slice of home on the front lines here in Iraq.
Each Sunday the Marines of the company take time to gather for a barbecue – sharing hamburgers, bratwursts, sodas and brotherhood.
For 2nd Lt. Vaughn T. Poe, Headquarters Co. commander, bringing up the morale of his Marines is his first priority and these outings are one of the ways he has learned to do just that.
“Morale is the key,” Poe said. “Our Marines our in direct support of [Regimental Combat Team 8], so our morale is important to keep operations going.”
The change of tempo and atmosphere from the daily routine helps recharge the Marines and ultimately the entire unit, Poe said.
“It’s a definite change of pace,” he said. “Any given day, Monday through Sunday, my Marines are pushed to their limits, so Sunday is a day of relaxation and to boost their morale.”
Depending on what is available, the Marines will grill up a few T-bone steaks, bratwursts or burgers, and it just wouldn’t be a full-blown picnic without rounding up some potato chips and “near-beer,” or non-alcoholic beer.
These cookouts also serve as a team builder by bettering the relationships between the Marines and forging unit cohesion.
“A lot of these guys work together seven days a week,” Poe said. “It builds camaraderie [between] them out by the grill. Eat, have some ‘near beers’ and see there is a method to the madness.”
For the Marines, perhaps the greatest part of these barbecues is the way they serve as a taste, and reminder, of life in the United States.
“They make me think of home,” said Lance Cpl. Daniel Landa, a field radio operator with Headquarters Co. “It’s a major morale boost.”
Landa enjoys meeting people from all over the nation and discussing other people’s backgrounds and home towns.
“There are people from Texas, California and all over,” The Allentown, Pa., native said. “I love getting to see and talk with all the different people.”
For most, the relaxation of getting away from work is the biggest benefit.
“Everyone just gets to chill. We throw the football around and talk; we just get to relax,” Landa said. “It’s a good break.”
Even though the Marines cannot be at home, the little morale boost and a bratwurst with some mustard is what keeps them ever-ready to keep up the fight in the global war on terrorism and gives them a small taste of home.