HONG KONG -- The sound of children’s laughter and Marine Corps cadence could be heard around the school as the students of St. Clement’s Primary School played with Marines and sailors of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group, April 16.
The visit brought together young students from Hong Kong and U.S. servicemembers from the Peleliu ARG’s 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Amphibious Squadron Three and gave them the opportunity to learn about another culture. During the trip, Marines and sailors played games, shared stories and laughs and gave a class on marching to the eager students.
The event was organized by the 15th MEU Command Element’s chaplain, Lt. Cmdr. David D. Dinkins. An invitation was sent out to servicemembers with the blue-green team to afford them the opportunity to volunteer their time at the local school.
“We all had a great time,” said Dinkins. “The visit was filled with games and laughter. The students were very receptive and welcoming to our being there. They were all very curious about what each of the Marines and sailors did on ship, which made for a great way to break the ice.”
Marines are known across the world for their crisp appearance in their dress blue uniform and the sound of rifles hitting the ground during a drill ceremony on a silent parade deck. To give the young students some insight into this tradition, Sgt. Steven McNeely, a radio operator with Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th MEU, taught a class on drill and ceremonies. The class was another opportunity for the two different groups to find common ground.
“Visiting the school was a great experience,” said McNeely, 23, from Frederickburg, Va. “We demonstrated some of the drill movements and played games. Before the visit was over, they called the cadence to lead us in formation. A 7-year-old marching a group of Marines around definitely isn’t something you see every day.”
The students also participated in games many Americans know from their childhood: Red Light, Green Light, and Simon Says.
“The games were a great time, and the visit allowed us to exchange parts of our culture with each other,” said Sgt. Phillip M. Page, data network specialist, CLB-15, 15th MEU. “The kids were full of energy and really opened up to us. I really enjoyed spending time with them,” added the 22-year-old native of Huntsville, Ala.
In exchange for the introduction to Marine Corps drill and other games, the students of St. Clement’s introduced the servicemembers to local food favorites to give the Marines and sailors a new taste of the region.
“Fish balls were definitely an interesting snack,” said McNeely. “It was a favorite with the kids, and the Marines were happy to take part in some of their culture the way the kids took part in ours.”
Unfortunately the day of festivities came to an end, but not before the Marines, sailors and students assembled for a group photo to commemorate the visit.
“It was an unforgettable experience, and I am privileged to have taken part in it,” said McNeely.
The 15th MEU is deployed as part of the Peleliu ARG and is comprised of approximately 2,400 Marines and sailors. Together with Amphibious Squadron Three, they provide a forward-deployed, flexible sea-based Marine Air Ground Task Force capable of conducting a wide variety of operations ranging from humanitarian aid to combat.