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Staff Sgt. Wesley W. Matthews (left) and several other Marines stand at attention at the beginning of their field mess night ceremony at Al Asad, Iraq, July 1. Matthews is the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the Al Asad Ammunition Supply Point with Headquarters and Service Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 7, 1st Marine Logistics Group. He is a native of Pensacola, Fla.

Photo by Lance Cpl. James B. Hoke

Ammunition supply Marines raise morale with mess night

7 Jul 2006 | Lance Cpl. James B. Hoke

Marines at the Al Asad Ammunition Supply Point came together for a brief banquet laced with ceremony and laughs, staying in tune with Marine Corps tradition.

The ASP Marines with Headquarters and Service Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 7, 1st Marine Logistics Group, conducted a field mess night at Al Asad July 1 to honor and recognize the Marines who came before them, as well as to build on to their own camaraderie.

"We came over here 24 strong, and we do a lot of things together," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brian G. Wisneski, detachment officer-in-charge. "We used to do family night. For a lot of the Marines, this is their first deployment. They jumped on (planning this banquet) and made it happen. I gave them guidance, but they are the ones who did it."

Being that the Marines are in Iraq and in a combat environment, easy access to their dress blue uniforms isn't possible, so they had to come up with an alternate uniform.

"To go with a mess night, there is a uniform," said Wisneski, a 32-year-old native of Fort Ripley, Minn. "We wanted to make this a field mess night, so we wore our Kevlar and flak jackets."

The field mess night was 10 times better than having one back in the United States, according to Sgt. Duane A. Calvin, storage chief, ASP west.

"You are forced to be so much closer to your unit here in Iraq," said Calvin, a 28-year-old native of Rochester, N.Y. "Marines really appreciate it. They aren't being dragged to it out here, and it improves morale by leaps and bounds. It's something that they will never really forget about."

Although the tradition of the mess night is one that has survived several centuries, it wasn't introduced to the Marine Corps until 1953. According to Wisneski, it has already become a lost tradition.

"These are traditions that Marines need to build camaraderie and a stronger Marine Corps," the Brainerd High School graduate stated. "We get too wrapped up in operations and don't have time for it. Most of the Marines didn't know about it. They had to get a class on how to speak and what to do."

Working with the same people day in and day out can also lead to stress, especially in an environment where you cannot leave each other for more than a few hours. According to Wisneski, that's why they need traditions and influences that raise the Marines' morale and build onto their friendships.

"The Marines need these kinds of traditions so that they understand why the Marine Corps has these traditions that are based on camaraderie," said Wisneski. "They are based on Marines being brothers and sisters to each other.

"If you think about back at Camp Pendleton, you would finish work, go back to your barracks and go out into town to see your girlfriend or something, but here, if you go back to the barracks, you are staying with the same people you work with," concluded Wisneski. "These Marines get up, go to work, eat chow and live with the same people every day. They are family."


3rd Marine Aircraft Wing