Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. -- The Single Marine Program gave 61 Marines and sailors from bases in the western area, including 17 station Marines, the opportunity to visit Hawaii Aug. 2-6.
The service members and SMP coordinators gathered at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar to catch an eight-hour C-130 Hercules flight to Marine Corps Air Field Kaneohe Bay on the island of Oahu, where members of K-Bay's SMP welcomed them with a barbecue.
That evening, the Marines settled themselves into O'hana West Hotel in Waikiki, Hawaii, for three days of vacation in a island paradise of sandy beaches, lush mountain jungles and bustling city life.
Though it rained about half the time, the Marines still took on a variety of activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, shopping, visiting Pearl Harbor, going to luaus and just hanging out at the beach.
Sergeant Dawn Bobbert, of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron-13's Ground Support Equipment Division, believes trips like this help Marines come back to work refreshed.
"It's troop welfare," said Bobbert. "The stress level in Hawaii is nonexistent. If you give your Marines a good vacation and they come back to work without any stress, they're going to be more productive."
The trip motivated Cpl. Jason Andrews, a Marine Wing Support Squadron-371 heavy equipment operator, to "bust out" his new digital-camouflage uniform.
"I've been kind of dragging my feet on a few things, especially getting my new digital cammies together," he said. "(Sunday night) I stayed up and (Irish pennanted) all my stuff. So I'm actually wearing my digitals."
For most of the Marines, Hawaii was their first SMP trip.
"I've been to a couple of the events, but this was the first trip that I've been on," said Andrews. "I liked it because if you wanted to do something on your own, there was no pressure to do what the program was doing, but if you wanted to hang out with a group, there was a group of people to hang out with. So there was a little something for everybody."
Gunnery Sgt. Roger D. Robbins, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of Marine Corps Community Services programs at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, said the SMP is a way for the Corps to show Marines its concern for their welfare.
"I think it gives (the Marines) the opportunity to feel like somebody cares about them," said Robbins. "A lot of the time we grab the young Marines and say they can't go because they've got work to do. We're always going to have work to do. Our inbox is always going to be full, but when an opportunity like this pops up, Marines should take advantage of it."
The SMP has come a long way and is doing great things, but could use more involvement, said Robbins.
"Once Marines actually get involved with the program and realize it's not about chess players with black-rimmed glasses but it's Marines out doing stuff both in the community and getting together and having a good time then the program will really take off," he said.