Marines

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Staff Sgt. Tarath Thlang, the communications chief for Headquarters Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, helps a child into the turret of a military humvee at the Armed Forces Adventure Area in Fort Worth, Texas, Dec. 30, 2013. The AFAA was the official fan zone for spectators of the 2013 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl to interact with service members and their gear before, during and after the game.

Photo by Cpl. Jessica Ito

Texas Marines spend time with Armed Forces Bowl fans

7 Jan 2014 | Cpl. Jessica Ito

Spectators of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl got a glimpse of the Marine Corps’ current weapons systems and tactical vehicles at the Armed Forces Adventure Area here, Dec. 30, 2013.

“We are just trying to show the public a little bit about the unit and what we do as Marines,” said Sgt. Joshua McAdams, the armory chief for Headquarters Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment. “It gives us the chance to interact with some of the people in the area where we’re stationed and let them know why we’re here and show our support for the community.”

The Marines set up static displays where they were available to answer questions and ensure the fans remained safe while handling the gear.

“A lot of people surprisingly don’t know that much about us even though we’re here in their backyard,” said McAdams. “They’ve never seen us before so they just have a genuine interest in learning a little bit about what the Marines do.”

Children and parents alike enjoyed climbing inside the military humvee, to the turret where they could check out the M2 .50 caliber heavy barrel machine gun used by Marines overseas. The Marines also had a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System and a 14-foot tall, 7-ton truck available to climb inside of.

The football fans also got the opportunity to handle weapons the Marines had available such as the M9 Beretta, the M203 grenade launcher attached to an M16 service rifle, an M240 machine gun and the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.

McAdams believes the community enjoyed learning about the gear and spending time with their Marines.

“I think people just get a sense of security from us being around,” said McAdams. “Even if they don’t really understand what our mission is or what we do, they feel better knowing the Marines are there and we are here for them.”

On the other side of the static display, Marines with the 8th Marine Corps District had pull-up bars and prizes for anyone willing to participate. The 8th MCD Marines assisted with pull-ups and answered questions about what it takes to become a Marine.

“We always want to hit them with the wow factor,” said Gunnery Sgt. Raynall Thornton, the Enhanced Marketing Vehicle Team chief with 8th MCD. “The biggest thing for me is giving them the information about the Marine Corps.”

According to Thornton, this is the first time he has partnered with another unit with a static display of Marine Corps gear, and he believes the duo had a positive effect on the public.

“With the Marines from 14th Marines, it’s definitely been an added effect with the vehicles and the weapons systems,” said Thornton. “It definitely helps out a whole lot more and has a much bigger effect on the crowd.”

Thornton believes the experience was a positive one for the football fans and that the Marines accomplished their mission of generating interest and informing the public about the Corps.

“Not many people know about the Marine Corps, so when they do see Marines, we are probably the first or last Marines they’ll ever see,” said Thornton. “When we go out, we always have to be professional and showcase the Marine Corps in a way that is going to be remembered.”