Cooking in the Desert: After 3 Months, Marines Take First Break

8 May 2007 | Spc. Benjamin R. Kibbey, 367th MPAD

Approximately three months after leaving Camp Pendleton, Calif., to join Operation Iraqi Freedom, the members of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 received their first day off since Feb. 11, and they made an event of it.Grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, soda pop, music and games were the order of the afternoon for the Marines as they did their best to relax and enjoy their day off under the hot Kuwaiti sun May 7."It's the typical Marine Corps spirit to have a cookout," said 1st Lt. Cliff Ford, a Virginia Beach, Va. native, pilot and the Moral, Welfare and Recreation officer for HMM-268.According to Capt. Dominic Harris, an Annapolis, Md. Native and HMM-268 airframes officer in charge, the cookout was thrown together on fairly short notice."I found out on the fourth they wanted to do this," said Harris.Harris went to the Air Force and arranged to get grills and charcoal, contacted the chow hall to arrange for the hamburgers, hotdogs and other food, and arranged to buy the soda pop from the Post Exchange and have them keep it cold until the cookout.The event gave the HMM-268 Marines a chance to play games together, enjoy each other's company and, most importantly, have some grilled food.The grilled food was a nice break from the hotdogs and hamburgers normally served at the chow hall at lunch, said Sgt. Peter Dimartino, a Snohomish, Wash. Native and HMM-268 crew chief."It's good to have some grilled food again. It's a lot better than the chow hall," said Cpl. Brandon Arellano, a Pueblo Colo. Native and HMM-268 airframe mechanic.In the states, it is common for the Marines to have some kind of function at least once a month, said Harris."It reminds me of some of the barbeques we did back at Camp Pendleton," said Maj. Donald Presto, a Virginia Beach, Va. native and HMM-268 pilot and safety officer.Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark A. Gomez, a Pharr, Texas native and Navy hospital corpsman who has been attached to the HMM-268 for a little over a year, said he usually ends up working at the grill -- as he did May 7 -- when there is a cookout."Whenever we go anywhere we get together and grill," he said. "I enjoy doing it, and taking care of everyone here."Sgt. Scott B. Carson, a Loma, Colo. native and HMM-268 ordinance division chief, said he volunteered to do the grilling because it reminded him of the grilling he does at home."It's like a weekend thing, especially during football season," he said.The day off work was well earned by the Marines after three months of hard work, said Lt. Col. Jerome E. Driscoll, a San Francisco native and HMM-268 commanding officer."This is the best alternative since we can't go off-base for a liberty," he said.According to Cpl. Charlie Campbell, a Chicago native and HMM-268 airframer, the Marines have been logging a lot of hours, with 100 of the 350 flying hours required for the month already logged."We'll get that 350 easily. We'll probably go over, and that's why we got a day off," he said.According to Lance Cpl. Michael Perre, a Naples, N.Y. native and HMM-268 mechanic, this is the first time things have slowed down since he arrived in country Feb. 11."It's nice to finally have a break," he said.