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Marines from Marine Attack Squadron 513, Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, compete in a tug-of-war Aug. 6, at Al Asad, Iraq. The tug-of-war was just one event at the field meet. The Marines also had a barbeque and music, adding to the morale-boosting excitement of the day.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Brian J. Holloran

'Nightmares' hold field meet, raise morale

20 Aug 2006 | Lance Cpl. Brian J. Holloran

A field meet was held by Marine Attack Squadron 513, Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in Al Asad, Aug. 6, to boost morale and strengthen unit cohesion.

The field meet was the idea of Capt. Carlton A. Wilson, Harrier pilot, and 1st Lt. Anemia Godwin Eddie Utuk, assistant aircraft maintenance officer.

"We decided to hold the event to compensate the Marines for a superb deployment," said Utuk, a native of Columbus, Ga. "This squadron has been through a lot together. We had an inspection of all of our shops and went through Exercise Desert Talon, all prior to our deployment."

Field meets are common at garrison commands, but the excitement and team building seemed to be a perfect way to relieve some stress from a very hardworking squadron.

"The squadron has been working very hard this last year, especially here in Iraq," said Wilson, a native of Austin, Texas. "The squadron has had very little time on this deployment to do any group activities."

The field meet had shops throughout the squadron competing in three different events.

"There was a tug-of-war, dizzy izzy and a Leadership Reaction Course challenge called the spider web," said Utuk. "There was also a 5-ton truck pull planned, but we canceled it due to operational commitment and time constraints."

The field meet wasn't all athletic competitions. Food and music added to the excitement of the day.

"We had a cookout with steak, ribs, hot wings and ice cream," said Wilson. "Add a DJ and some friends and it was a pretty good time to be had by all."

Morale, Welfare and Recreation provided the DJ and all the equipment necessary to provide music for the Marines.

"My idea was to bring some of the recreational package available for the main-side units to this end of the air base," said Utuk. "I coordinated all the details with Crystal Nadeau, MWR supervisor, who was a huge help. I remember when I discussed this with her initially; she was really animated and excited about the whole event. I was really impressed with how aggressive she was in activating her staff members to get them involved. Bottom line, their presence here made a huge difference."

It was only fitting to show the Marines of VMA-513 that they are truly deserving of a function like this to commemorate their accomplishments and to ensure morale is high for the last leg of the deployment, explained Utuk.

"One of the biggest challenges in a combat environment for a small unit leader is to build camaraderie and minimize boredom," said Utuk. "Throughout the deployment, it has been imperative to break the everyday maintenance monotony and create events focused on competition and esprit de corps which sharpen our Marines' combat mindset."
3rd Marine Aircraft Wing