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15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

America's Vanguard Force

Camp Pendleton, CA
Celebrities drop in to pay the 15th MEU a holiday visit

By Pfc. Parish, Timothy | | December 29, 2006

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Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) got a surprise visit as two 1985 Super Bowl champions, a television star, and a television weatherman dropped in to visit with the Marines and sailors at Camp Korean Village.

Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon and kicker Kevin Butler signed footballs and pictures and posed for pictures with football fans.  Actress Karri Turner, known as Navy Lt. Harriet Sims on the show ‘JAG’, also gave her time to sign pictures and pose for pictures with smiling fans.

‘CBS Early Show’ weatherman Dave Price gave an impromptu weather report, with a little help from Gunnery Sgt. Steven O. Draper, the 15th MEU (SOC) Command Element’s Weather Chief, bringing smiles and laughs from everyone in the room.    

The event gave the Marines and sailors here an exclusive opportunity to interact with well known personalities in a unique environment, according to Draper. 

“It’s not everyday that you get a chance to meet your celebrity counterpart and its not every day that you get to meet someone from one of your favorite shows,” Draper said.

The visit was a positive experience for the Marines and Sailors here, as well as the celebrities.  According to Draper.  “Generally, anything out of the ordinary is going to be motivating for the Marines.  It’s always a good thing to know that someone cares for them.”

For Turner, morale visits are not a new experience.  She’s been to Korea, Afghanistan, and Iraq.  “This is my sixth tour…I keep coming back and coming back, because I love you guys and I believe in your effort.  You’re where my heart is,” she said.

Her overseas trips are a matter of gratitude for Turner.  “Everybody in America should be saying thanks to you guys.  Everybody should have a chance to shake your hand and say thanks for what you’re doing,” she said.

Sue Harlan, Camp Korean Village Morale, Welfare, and Recreation coordinator, thinks the morale visits have a positive effect.  “I think it boosts everybody’s morale.  Over here we don’t have that many visits. I think it was a good thing to see so many people here laughing and cracking jokes and taking pictures,” she said.

McMahon also has a track record of supporting the military, but this is his first visit to Iraq, he said.

“I finally got a chance to come over here and see the guys.”

The Marines and sailors here appreciate the effort the celebrities put into coming to Camp Korean Village.  “I think it was good for them to come out here and it was good for them to show their support to the Marines and sailors and soldiers that are out here, because they didn’t have to,” said 1st Sgt. Willard J. Roberts, 1st sergeant, Company B, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion.  “They used their extra time to come out here and speak to us… It was cold and the weather was not good, but they still came out here and appeared to be happy to show support to us.”

To the service members of Camp Korean Village, serving in a deployed environment is a part of military life.  But, the visit of celebrities willing to give their time and effort to enrich the lives of deployed troops added to the sentiment felt by all the Marines and sailors of the 15th MEU (SOC), according to Draper. 

“There are a lot of people back home who wish that they could do something.  These guys actually got a chance to come out here and talk to the Marines, see them, shake their hands, and be a part of their lives for a little while,” he said

Roberts agrees.  “It’s an honor to serve the country...you don’t get a lot of thanks but that makes you feel that much better about yourself when you see those guys come out to support us,” he said.

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