Al QATRANAH, Jordan, (Aug. 26, 2008) – --
The Marines of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit had the opportunity to visit the ancient city of Petra recently, taking a break from day-to-day operations in the deserts of Western Jordan.
Petra, famed as an architectural wonder and featured in the Hollywood movie “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade,” boasts temples and tombs, vendors, donkeys and the occasional camel.
The Marines of the 15th MEU were fortunate to be able to take a day off from training to do a little sight-seeing, according to Capt. Lisa M. Parrott, Supply Officer for the 15th MEU.
“It was nice to get out and do something different,” said Parrott, a native of Newark, Ohio. “You learn a lot about the history and the culture of the location.”
Along with the picture opportunities and souvenirs, Petra offered a window into the culture and traditions of the Jordanian people. Petra, built throughout the centuries since biblical times, is as much a part of the locals as the locals are of the ancient gorge itself, Parrott explained. Interacting with some of the locals was a unique chance for the Marines to better understand an ancient and historic society and place, according to Parrott.
“Seeing where people’s beliefs were founded and started is something that not a lot of people get an opportunity to do,” said Parrott. “It does a lot to open up some understanding for the Marines, especially the younger ones and gives them an opportunity to start getting educated on the culture of the Middle East,” said Parrott.
The day trips for 15th MEU to enhance the Marines cultural understanding in a foreign land was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the nearly 1,500 tour goers from the 15th MEU, according to Parrott.
For the Marines of the 15th MEU, four months into deployment, the trip to Petra was a break from the day-to-day routine, according to Pfc. Renee Rodriguez, an Administration Clerk with the Command Element.
“Experiencing Petra first-hand gave us a break from working and a change from training,” said Rodriguez, a native of Tustin, Calif.
Being deployed with a MEU offers Marines a chance to see and experience foreign cultures all across the world. Touring places like Petra is important for the Marines because it helps them understand and value societies different from the United States, according to Rodriguez.
“It is important to know and appreciate the country you’re in. It broadens the Marines horizons to see new places,” Rodriguez said.
The Camp Pendleton, Calif. based 15th MEU is comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines and Sailors and is a forward deployed force in readiness capable of conducting numerous operations, such as Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations, Humanitarian Assistance Operations and a wide range of amphibious missions. The 15th MEU is currently deployed aboard USS Peleliu (LHA-5), USS Dubuque (LPD-8) and USS Pearl Harbor (LSD-52).