Photos by Staff Sgt. Matthew O. Holly,
Lance Cpl. Jesse D. Leger and Lance Cpl. Karl J. Launius
USS BOXER, near the Philippines (July 4, 2009)—For many, Independence Day means family, friends and perhaps a cookout. These long standing traditions proved to exist this day for the service members aboard USS Boxer (LHD 4) minus one key factor—family.
This rang true when speaking of a conjugal family in the classic since; however, service members often refer to their brothers in arms as their expanded family and were able to celebrate with one another in the form of a steel beach picnic (a picnic on the flight deck of the ship) this July Fourth.
“This is a very unique Fourth of July with it coming towards the end of our deployment,” said Sgt. Maj. Enrique X. Hines, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit sergeant major and Bronx, N.Y. native. “This is a great time to spend with my extended family,” referring to his fellow Marines and sailors.
It was also a day where Marines, sailors and civilians aboard could kick back, take in the sights of the Philippine Islands and listen to jams pumped out by U.S. Navy Electricians Mate 1st Class Robert Plaza, a Fullerton, Calif. native, aka, DJ Rist.
“It’s a good opportunity to get people to relax and out of their daily routine,” said Staff Sgt. Versayn G. Reynaga, the motor transportation chief for Combat Logistics Battalion 13 and resident of Glenns Ferry, Idaho. “It was nice to enjoy the barbeque and get some sun.”
Staff Sgt. Derrick M. Rasmussen, staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the 13th MEU’s Radio Battalion detachment, agreed by saying there’s nothing better than a little fresh air, sunshine and a barbecue.
“The food was good,” said Lance Cpl. Dustin C. Davis, infantryman with headquarters platoon, Charlie Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/1, 13th MEU and Houston native. “It was a good change of pace.”
Davis continued by saying he spent the last few Fourth of July holidays at home with friends and family, but was happy to be able to spend time with his friends at the steel beach picnic.
The day concluded with the cutting of the nation's birthday cake. Although for some it was a good Fourth of July amongst friends, it is safe to say the Marines and sailors aboard USS Boxer long for the next holiday they can spend with their loved ones at home.
The 13th MEU/Boxer Amphibious Ready Group are in the sixth of their seven-month deployment and are journeying through the Pacific Ocean in route home.