PHOENIX -- The 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. John A. Lejeune, once said the future success of the Marine Corps depends on two things: efficiently performing all duties assigned, and bringing that efficiency to the attention of the American people.
Six years ago, the Marine Corps came up with a plan to maximize their ability to show that efficiency by bringing assets from across the country to cities across America. With more than six million people in the surrounding area, Phoenix was selected to host 2015 Marine Week.
“Phoenix is so thrilled to have Marine Week, we’ve been working very hard to bring it here,” said Councilwoman Kate Gallego. “We know the purpose of Marine Week is to educate Phoenix about the Marines but we are also hoping they learn how much Phoenix supports our armed services.”
Hundreds of Marines swarmed the streets of downtown Phoenix and along with their tactical vehicles and equipment, filled up parks and parking lots. The suburbs of Phoenix also experienced special events with static displays and performances by military working dogs and handlers, Marine Band San Diego, the Silent Drill Platoon and instructors from the Martial Arts Center of Excellence.
“This week has given us a chance to appreciate what the Marines do and show our support by being out here,” said Lorena Ramirez, a spectator at one of the various static display locations around town. “They put their lives on the line to keep our country safe and we appreciate that.”
The Marines were very friendly and hospitable to people who knew very little about the Marine way of life, added Ramirez
Phoenix residents also had the opportunity to participate in daily workout sessions and learned the importance of physical training for Marines. They also tested residents on their own Combat Fitness Test, which includes counting ammunition can lifts, running two track laps, and completing a timed obstacle course.
Each morning, a Marine team participated in community service projects, cleaning up parks and grounds, and building beautification structures in schools across the city.
Laura Eliza Valdez, a poolee in the Marine Corps’ Delayed Entry Program, said she was happy to be able to see the Marines in her community.
“I hope that people learn a bit more about what the Marines actually do for our country and not take what they do for granted,” said Valdez, who is slated to attend Marine Corps recruit training in October.
Also as a part of Marine Week, Marines and community members gathered together to pay homage to the Marines lost in battle, as well as to the victims of 9/11.
“We are a part of the community. We are sons and daughters. We’re brothers and sisters, and we only happen to choose to fight a different fight for our country,” said Lt. Col. Antonio Scofield, a program manager with Marine Corps Systems Command. “I think this week has gone a long way in explaining, not only to the citizens of Phoenix, but everyone who has seen us, that we love America.”
Marine Week ended with a small closing ceremony and ceremonial lowering of the flag to say goodbye to the city of Phoenix.