24th MEU helps recruit in Boston, New York
By Cpl. Acosta
| | June 01, 2005
1st MARINE CORPS DISTRICT, GARDEN CITY, N.Y. --
Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS John Fitzgerald Kennedy killed two birds with one stone while on liberty in two of the biggest cities on the East Coast.
In addition to their participation in Fleet Week, Marines from the 24th MEU were tasked with bolstering the recruiting effort by generating “leads,” or perspective candidates interested in joining the Marine Corps, while ashore in Boston and New York City during the last two weeks in May.
“Col. Ronald J. Johnson, [commander of the 24th MEU], wanted to reward his Marines with some well deserved liberty in New York City and Boston after their tour in Iraq,” said Capt. David E. Nevers, assigned to the 24th MEU. “He also made it a primary mission to support the recruiting effort by having active duty Marines who have been deployed explain to 17 and 18 year-olds interested in the military and their parents what the Marine Corps is about.”
According to Nevers, the goal was to allow the public, especially those interested in joining the Marine Corps, ask Marines who participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom questions first hand.
“It’s all about connecting with the American people,” said Nevers. “Putting Marines on the street to engage the public and answer their questions is extremely valuable. There is no substitute for seeing a Marine in uniform who can explain beyond the preconceived notions what the Marine Corps is about.”
If there is no substitute for what one Marine in uniform can do for the recruiting effort, imagine what hundreds of them can accomplish. This was the case in both cities as Marines went on liberty in their dress blues deltas to have a good time and help their brothers in arms, the recruiters.
“It helped tremendously to have the Marines of the 24th MEU in Boston,” said Staff Sgt. Kenneth L. Tinnin, with Recruiting Station Portsmouth. “Just having as many Marines as we did walking the streets of Boston had an impact. Also, RS Portsmouth was able to set up an enhanced area canvassing event, or EAC, near the site where the JFK was docked and that generated some additional awareness.”
The EAC consisted of an inflatable giant-sized drill instructor, four real drill instructors from Recruit Training Depot Parris Island, S.C., a pull-up bar, and the event marketing vehicle, which is a complete with custom Marine Corps graphics, a fully loaded sound system, and a video game console.
The Humvee and did more than raise awareness. It drew a crowd, which included the local media, who turned out to broadcast live, giving the Marine Corps a valuable opportunity to address the public by the masses.
“Having FOX 25 WFXT, one of the top rated morning shows in Boston, broadcast their morning show from the deck of the JFK and from the site of our EAC event for three hours was great,” said Tinnin. “In addition, having WAAF, a top Boston Rock station, broadcast live for nine hours on the deck of the JFK, constantly plugging our poolee event and singing the praises of the Marine Corps and Navy was immeasurable.”
While in New York, many of the Marines with the 24th MEU continued their effort to help recruiters as they had in Boston.
They visited local public schools to speak to children in Reserve Officers' Training Corps programs and set up static displays of weapons, vehicles and gear.
However, it was a simulated helicopter raid on some of New York City’s local parks that entertained hundreds of men, women, and children the most.
CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters from the 24th MEU dropped about 20 Marines in Long Island, New York’s Eisenhower Park and at other parks throughout New York as part of simulated raid demonstrations meant to introduce New Yorkers to how the Marine Corps operates.
Marines augmented to the 24th MEU from 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment fast-roped to the ground from the helicopters and demonstrated perimeter establishment for many of the civilians, veterans, and area Marine Corps poolees that attended the event.
“For many of these people, this was the experience of a lifetime,” said area recruiter Sgt. Sheldon Johnson. “It helps out the recruiting effort because it shows people a side of the Marine Corps they don’t expect.”
For many of his poolees, Johnson said seeing the raid and speaking with the Marines afterwards eased some apprehensions about recruit training.
And, easing apprehensions about joining America’s elite fighting force is exactly what recruiters working with the 24th MEU wanted to accomplish. Every lead generated during the two-city tour is a potential recruit, who replenishes the ranks upon completing Boot Camp.
“The Marine Corps is a constant evolving entity,” said Nevers. “Most of our Marines who choose to serve leave the Marine Corps to rejoin the population as better citizens. We are a volunteer force. Not everyone chooses to be a career Marine. As a result, we need to replenish our sources on a daily basis. We need to remind the American people why being a Marine is important.”
While ashore in both cities, the Marines of the 24th MEU did more than remind people why being a Marine is important. They showed them first hand.
“We couldn’t afford to waste the opportunity to have 800 Marines in Boston and New York City communicating the Marine Corps’ values to the American people,” said Nevers. “We want to ensure that the mothers and fathers of America continue to feel comfortable with sending us their sons and daughters.”