Hawaii: Single Marine Program takes Marines far from depot
By Lance Cpl. Dorian Gardner
| | September 16, 2005
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
Marines from the depot and Naval Medical Center San Diego took a nine-day trip to Hawaii Aug. 31 to Sept. 8, and the Single Marine Program covered most expenses. Program coordinator Britney O'Connor, who joined the Marines on the trip to Oahu, said thanks to nearly $2,000 in fund raisers, Marine Corps Community Services dollars and government air, the trip was affordable for the 13 depot Marines who went. Travelers paid $200 for a dinner, a luau, and a stay at the Ohana Waikiki West Hotel and Resort, two blocks from the beach. Warm weather and light rain welcomed the vacationers, who stepped off a C-130 and into two rental cars.Marines from other West Coast installations also made the trip and joined depot Marines on a VIP tour of Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. Marines came from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.; and MCAS Yuma, Ariz. After touring Pearl Harbor, some Marines found scooter rentals and toured the island; others hiked or went snorkeling. Sgt. Shannon Vaughn, a military pay auditor, snorkeled with her own gear when she and five other Marines tripped to the north shore where the reef and fish were visible from the land. "The shallows are like bathwater. It's so warm, I could swim for days," said Vaughn. "And it's crystal clear." Before Marines said goodbye to blue oceans and grass skirts, they enjoyed a golden hour brimming with Polynesian culture at Germaine's Luau. Marines ate a pig that had been buried in the sand and cooked with hot rocks, a traditional way to prepare the main entrée. After dinner, fire dancers, Samoan tribal warriors, and Hawaiian hula girls performed until sunset. Between performances, dancers got the crowd involved with hula lessons. "Learning a real-deal hula dance was fun," said O'Connor. Nine days flew by, and the Marines were not ready to leave Hawaii. Vaughn said her office felt like it was a million miles away until she saw the plane again. "I know there's a stack of paperwork waiting for me," she said.