MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Marines and sailors with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit have spent the last week training in the field, here, in support of MEU Exercise, April 2-12.
Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise is designed to train the unit as a Marine Air Ground Task Force in preparation for their upcoming deployment. It is the first exercise that integrates all elements of the MAGTF.
The elements are set up in different areas of the base, dependent on their specific missions.
While training is the number one priority, seven religious services were held to allow the servicemembers to practice their faith even though they are away from home.
“As the command’s chaplain, it’s important for me to make myself available to the Marines and sailors even though we are training,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. David D. Dinkins, chaplain, Command Element, 15th MEU. “Easter is one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar, and I’m glad we were able to celebrate it here,” added the 46-year-old native of Ft. Worth, Tx.
The services held included a Good Friday worship with a communion. Services were held in the different areas where the other elements of the MEU were staying.
“Our mission is to support the religious needs of the troops,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Edward S. Debaun, religious program specialist, Command Element, 15th MEU. “Since we are in the field training, we ensured the Marines and sailors were still able to conduct worship,” said the 34-year-old native of Copperopolis, Calif.
According to Debaun, the dynamic is different conducting a service in the field since family members aren’t far away.
“The stress is usually a little higher at religious events that are state-side,” said Debaun, who has been serving as a religious program specialist for the past 13 years. “It just makes these services that much more important,” he said.
The Marines and sailors appreciated the services regardless of their faith.
“Even though we are away from home or church, it’s nice to be able to practice our faith with those we are close to,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Devin L. Turner, hospital corpsman, Command Element, 15th MEU. “The services were great,” added the 29-year-old native of Fresno, Calif.
Dinkins said the Marines and sailors were attentive and appreciative.
“We brought a little bit of home out to the field,” he said.
The 15th MEU is a Marine Air Ground Task Force comprised of approximately 2,300 Marines and sailors who are participating in MEUEX to prepare the unit for its deployment scheduled for this fall.