SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Marines of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24th MEU) carried the message of the Marine Corps to several Savannah area high schools Jan. 11 during a community relations visit organized by 24th MEU representatives and area recruiters.
Visits were also made to Jasper County High School in Ridgeland, S.C., and The Citadel in Charleston, S.C.
Marines from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 266 flew one CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter to the Windsor Forest, Jenkins and Savannah High Schools during a day-long community relations event aimed at making the students more aware of the Marine Corps and the 24th MEU, currently conducting its Training in Urban Environment Exercise (TRUEX XXXIX) in the city of Savannah.
Area recruiters and Marine liaison officers helped to facilitate the event and presented a strong image of the Corps to Junior Reserve Officer Training Course members and students at the Citadel and the four high schools.
Another section of Marines comprised of one CH-46E and an AH-1W Super Cobra from the squadron flew to South Carolina and visited Jasper County High School in Ridgeland, S.C., and the Citadel.
Maj. B. T. Sherman of Fayetteville, Ark., and Capt. R.C. McGahhey of Vineland, N.J., landed on the football field at each of the Savannah area schools and set up a static display of their CH-46 "battle phrog" with the help of their crew chief, Sgt. Ron Conway of Ironton, Mo.
"I worked real hard to get where I am today," Sherman told the students at each school. "I wasn't the first student in my class and I wasn't the last student in my class. I was just average - but I never quit studying until I made it to where I am today."
Local recruiters met the crews at each school and coordinated the event, keeping the landing zone cleared for the bird and talking to the students about what the Marine Corps could offer them.
The students got to sit in the cockpit of each aircraft and hear a quick run-down of the aircrafts' controls by the pilots. The helmets and vests worn by the pilots during their missions were made available for the students to try on with help from the flight crews.
"The big thing is it was the first time those kids got to see something like a helicopter up close that they might have only seen on television before," said Capt. Brian Bruggeman of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, an AH-1W Super Cobra pilot with HMM-266.
"I think we gave them a showing of what's out there and what they can consider doing. If a helicopter comes and lands on a football field maybe it will get them to start considering a career option they haven't considered before."
Follow the 24th MEU predeployment on their website at www.usmc.mil/24meu.