USS JOHN F. KENNEDY -- Thousands of men, women and children gathered in Long Island, New York’s Eisenhower Park to get an idea of what it must be like to be on the receiving end of Marine Corps might.
Helicopters from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit dropped about 20 Marines here and at other parks throughout New York as part of simulated raid demonstrations meant to introduce New Yorkers to how the Marine Corps operates.
The Marines demonstrated perimeter establishment before returning to the helicopters.
For many of the civilians and area Marine Corps poolees, this introduction to fleet Marine forces was an impressive one.
“For many of these people, this was the experience of a lifetime,” said area recruiter Sgt. Sheldon Johnson. “It helps out the recruiting effort because it shows people a side of the Marine Corps they don’t expect.”
For many of his poolees, Johnson said seeing the raid and speaking with the Marines afterwards eased some apprehensions about recruit training.
“For a lot of guys about to ship to boot camp, it motivates them, gets them excited about what they’re going to do,” he added.
The raid included aviation combat elements from the 24th MEU and Marines from 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, who are augmented to the 24th MEU for fleet week, and will join as the ground combat element soon, said 1st Lt. Elliot Ackerman, a platoon commander with 1/8.
“This gives us a good opportunity to build relationships with the MEU,” he said.
Also crucial, Ackerman added, was for his Marines to understand the public’s appreciation for their work.
“Constantly living among Marines can give these guys the impression that what they do isn’t special,” he said. “It’s important for them to understand their job is unique and that they’re appreciated.”
Interest and appreciation have been high for Fleet Week, and the reception for the three days of raids was no different.
“(The people) were very positive,” Ackerman said. “They were really interested to see what we do.”
Immediately after the final day’s raid, Legislator David Majis from the 14th Legislative District spoke to the Marines and assembled crowd.
“It is really an honor to be here with these great American heroes,” he said to cheers from the crowd. “Thank you for all that you do.”