NEW YORK -- Marines and sailors with 2nd Marine Division recently visited the country’s largest city during Memorial Day weekend and were greeted with open arms from the local communities.
Service members with 10th Marine Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment; 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion; 2nd Tank Battalion and 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion were all on hand for New York City’s Fleet Week, the city’s annual appreciation event for the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, May 24-31.
The Marines and sailors aboard the USS Kearsarge, stationed in Norfolk, Va., participated in parades, demonstrations of military operations, social events, community service activities and other ceremonies during the week.
New Yorkers were given the opportunity to tour the ships and talk to Marines and sailors that have fought in the Global War on Terrorism. Static displays of tanks, amphibious assault vehicles, artillery weapons and light armored vehicles were on board for the locals to experience.
“People seemed to have a good time on the ship,” said Lance Cpl. Christopher Tibbs, 21, a tank mechanic with Company B, 2nd Tanks and a Springfield, Ill., native. “They asked us a lot of questions and seemed really interested in what we do. It was really rewarding to see people appreciating what we do everyday.”
The Marines and sailors were also afforded the opportunity to explore the city’s five boroughs and take in the sights.
One Marine in particular, Sgt. Larry M. Pray, 37, took full advantage of this opportunity, visiting most of New York’s popular landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty.
“I’m from a small town in North Carolina and I don’t get the chance to experience the city atmosphere too often,” explained the Hickory, N.C., native. “My fleet week was outstanding. I found the people to be very courteous. We were treated like celebrities the whole time. It was amazing. I don’t know how many times people would stop us and say thank you for what we do.”
More than 4,000 Marines, sailors and coastguardsmen, including British sailors, were involved in the festivities, and many agreed that this year’s Fleet Week was one to remember.
“I think New York had a great idea in Fleet Week,” said Pray, an intelligence chief with 10th Marine Regiment. “It’s the perfect way for the city to bond with the armed forces. They opened up their businesses and gave us their hospitality so they could get to know the young men and women that deploy in support of a war that literally started at their front door.
“New York City itself is a symbol of what makes this country great and worth fighting for; it’s a symbol of freedom,” Pray said.