DANA POINT, CA --
Growing up can be difficult in today’s fast-paced world. Without quality mentors youths can be left alone to take on the challenges of life.
On August 7, Marines and sailors from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit Helped fill the role as mentors by volunteering their time to take youths on an all-day fishing trip sponsored by Wild Game Feed.
“We’re a non-profit organization that donate to mostly fishing and hunting charities for kids,” George Smith, Wild Game Feed member. “This is a real good deal. Ideally this is what it’s all about seeing the smile on these kids’ faces. Hopefully a few of them start there fishing careers here.”
The trip allowed Marines to sign up with their child or volunteer as a mentor to other children.
“I think it’s amazing that there are programs like this out there that allow us just to come out and spend time with our kids,” said Petty Officer Second 2nd Class Wendell Tabios, Fleet Marine Force hospital corpsman, Command Element, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. “It means a lot to my little girl to spend as much time [as possible] with her dad.”
For others, like Chrissie Kirk, whose spouse is currently deployed to Afghanistan, the trip meant her two boys were able to go out and spend time with Marines.
“Spending time with other male figures is important to them because it’s always just them and me,” said Kirk. “This was definitely something they won’t forget and [they will] cherish the memories they made today.”
While this trip was a first time experience for some, for others it was an opportunity to restart old traditions put on hold due to the 15th MEU’s last deployment.
“This time is important to me because my dad was gone for eight months, which made me sad,” said Kouriahna, 12. “We used to have all day Fridays, where we’d go out and do things like this. This is kind of like our Friday together.”
Gunnery Sgt. Corey O. Wright, Headquarters Camp Commandant, Command Element, 15th MEU, expressed his gratitude for being able to spend the day with his youngest daughter.
“This is a great program,” said Wright. “I was able to take time off work and come spend it with my daughter fishing. We caught a lot of fish. Unfortunately no keepers, but it really is all about the experience my daughter got fishing with me again.”
Both Wright and his daughter plan to start up,“daughter Fridays” again, and this trip was a first step.
As the outing came to a close, there was only a handful of fish big enough to keep, but no shortage of smiles on board; making it the friendliest catch.