MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Marines and students joined together at Ronald Reagan Elementary School in Yuma, Ariz., in the name of organized outdoor fun March 23-24.
For the second year in a row, more than fifty Marines played with and supervised children for a field meet with contests like the tug of war, scooter tag and a rubber chicken relay race.
“The Marines were very kid-friendly and they participated in the events with the kids. They cheered the kids on and they boosted the kids’ morale,” said Sheila Mendoza, Ronald Reagan Elementary School first grade teacher. “They helped everyone to enjoy the event.”
Anna Prindle, a Ronald Reagan Elementary School fifth grade teacher, helped bring in the Marines for the event.
“We thought the interaction between the Marines and students would be wonderful,” said Prindle. “I saw it work when I was in Pensacola, (Fla.), and I didn’t see why it wouldn’t work here.”
Marines spent two mornings with the children for a variety of reasons.
“Kids are amazing. They are full of spirit and life. It’s just nice to be outside around youth,” said Sgt. Christopher Taylor, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron intermediate maintenance activity avionics technician and native of Honolulu, Hawaii.
“It’s definitely fun to be apart of something like this,” said Taylor. “If you get a chance to volunteer you definitely need to do it. It’s a lot of fun.”
Some Marines wanted to be closer to their kids and see what their school is like.
“I volunteered because my kids are out here,” said Staff Sgt. Johnathan Turner, Marine Attack Squadron 214 quality assurance representative, native of Sylvania, Ga. “Teachers have a lot to deal with. These kids have so many different personalities.”
Search and Rescue Marines were especially popular with the elementary school crowd.
“The Marines in the helicopter were the best part,” said Carlos Lopez, 10, Ronald Regan Elementary School third grade student.
The Marines not only served as supervisors, but as role models to the impressionable youngsters.
“The Marines were cool,” said Jovan Cramer, 6, Ronald Reagan Elementary School first grade student. “I liked it when they took off in the helicopter. I might be a Marine one day.”
The Marines presence was also appreciated by teachers working the playground.
“The field meet was great. It was well organized and we had a lot of help from the Marine Corps,” said Mendoza. “We really appreciated them coming and we hope they can come again.”
If the school invites the Marines back next year, some volunteers are already lining up for the opportunity.
“It was interesting and fun,” said Turner. “I’m going to do it again next year.”