CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Nearly two dozen teenagers participated in a tour of urban facilities aboard Camp Lejeune to get a taste of what their parents do as Marines and sailors.
“It’s good for them because they get to see a replica of what their parent has seen on deployment,” said Anne Doty, a LINKS program trainer from Havelock. “It gives them a sense of understanding and answers questions to why their parent always has to train and go overseas.”
At 10 a.m. on Friday, the teenagers began their immersion into the urban facility, crawling through tunnels, exploring buildings and handling weapon replicas. Marines guided the teens through the town explaining how and why the facility was modeled after a village in the Middle East.
“We’ve never done this with teens before,” Doty said. “It’s been a struggle to find activities for teens on Lejeune, and we thought it would be a great way to pull them back into the community and meet other teenagers.”
When the event first started, Garrett Christmas, 12, of Camp Lejeune, didn’t know what to expect.
“I hope to have a good time with my friends,” Christmas said. “It’s all new to me and I just thought being involved would be fun.”
Casey Higgins, 14, of Camp Lejeune, didn’t know what to expect either.
“It definitely showed me what my dad does,” Higgins said. “It made me even prouder that he has to go through all of this for his work.”
Casey said her favorite part was going into the buildings and handling the weapons.
“I’d for sure do it again,” Casey said. “I wanted to have fun and I got just that. And the best part is I have a better idea of what my dad does.”
For Joseph Medina, 15, of Jacksonville, the weapons were a familiar sight.
“I knew what most of the weapons were because of video games and from my dad teaching me,” Medina said. “My dad has taken me to work, and I’ve seen some of them before; but this was my first time seeing an AT-4. That was really cool.”
Joseph expressed pride in his father’s service.
“Getting insight into what my father does meant the most to me,” Joseph said.
For the Marine instructors it was more than just a tour of the village.
“We get a lot of VIPs who come out and do the same event,” said Staff Sgt. Kevin S. Siegel, 31, of Somerset, Ky.
“It’s always enjoyable to take them around and show them what Marines do. It’s good to give the kids insight to what Mom and Dad do. It’s nice to let them see why mom and dad aren’t always home and what they do when they go to Iraq or Afghanistan.”
Siegel, an instructor with Headquarters Support Battalion, Range Control, MOUT Facility, said he takes pride in showing the teens that their parents get quality training before they deploy.
“A lot of these kids watch movies and have an idea about the military, but to be on the ground and see the dangers in a real life environment is good,” Siegel said. “It’s great that they have a concern for what their parents do.”