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Silver Eagles land in Jebel Ali

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 2005311143637
Story by Cpl. Justin V. Eckersley

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT (March 11, 2005) -- After spending more than a month at sea engaging in constant operations supporting the war on terror, USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) hit port in Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates Feb. 17, through Feb. 20.

For the Marines and Sailors aboard Truman, it was the second time the ship hit port in the U.A.E. Some crew members, like Cpl. Michael Reed, corrosion control technician, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115, used the opportunity to strengthen ties and make connections.

“The first time we were in Jebel Ali, I bought a guitar and happened to have it in the Hard Rock Caf,” Reed said. “The house band saw me with it, and came over and started talking to me. We kept in touch, and this time I got to hang out with them.”

Those who did not reconnect with people and places in the country had many opportunities to make new connections, thanks to the many programs and events held by Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

Events available included both day and night safaris into the desert, a paintball challenge, and sandboarding. For more independent-minded crewmembers, self-guided tours were available online. These free tours listed possible routes through significant sites throughout the country, giving interested tourists the chance to freely modify their adventure.

While being in a foreign port provides the opportunity for culinary experimentation, there were many restaurants available on the pier for those Marines and Sailors looking for a quick bite of home. Also available were retail stores for music, clothes, electronics and souvenirs. For those not able to venture into the local metropolis, having such commodities close to ship was very helpful.

Also available was the chance for crew members to participate in a softball tournament, held on Feb. 19. The “Silver Eagles” of VMFA-115 put together a team and participated, and though they had little time to practice, they had a great time stretching their legs, according to Cpl. Matthew Wilson, who played on VMFA-115’s team.

“The other guys all had actual teams ahead of time, while we put ours together kind of last-minute,” Wilson said. “We only had one afternoon to practice, but I think we still did pretty good. The ship teams had all been together for a while, but we still beat a few of them.”

Despite their efforts, the Marines did not win the tournament, but neither did any of Truman’s teams, according to Wilson.

“There was a local team there, made up of civilian contractors,” Wilson said. “They played together three times a week and they beat us pretty bad. But it was really fun.”

As the Marines headed out refreshed and ready for the final leg of their deployment, they took with them fond memories, and left behind a positive impression of American service members to a foreign population.

“I had a great time getting to know them,” Reed said. “I learned a lot and had fun while I was there, too.”

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