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thedrifter
12-15-05, 12:09 PM
Marines dads dance with daughters at annual dance
MCB Camp Pendleton
Story by Lance Cpl. Ray Lewis

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (Dec. 15, 2005) -- Hundreds of Marine dads, decked out in Marine Corps “Dress Blues” and dress suits, escorted their daughters to Mary Fay Pendleton Elementary School for Mary Fay’s 2nd Annual Father-Daughter Dance Dec. 2.

“Who would wear their ‘Dress Blues’ if they didn’t have to?” asked Lori DeMille, a second grade teacher at the school. “Be hot and stuffy for two hours. They have to love their kids to go through that. It takes a special dad.”

The dance was a chance for fathers to spend time with their daughters between deployments. It was a night of eating, dancing and bonding.

“It might be small to some, but things like this are big for the hearts of the girls,” said Gunnery Sgt. Samuel Reed, father of Mary Fay elementary students Michaela and Krystal Reed. “It brings unity and builds synergy. Synergy is the relationship.”

“I think it’s awesome,” DeMille said. “With the increase of deployments we saw the need to do more functions like these with our kids.”

Principal Lynn Gilstrap also thinks the dance is an amazing experience for the children and fathers.

“A lot of these dads are deploying within the next couple of months,” Gilstrap said. “One dad just got home yesterday and another is deploying tomorrow.”

“(He) deploys in the morning, but he said, ‘I couldn’t miss this night with my little girl,’” DeMille said.

Most dads wanted to do all they could to make sure their daughter was as comfortable as possible.

“To help his daughter dance I heard one dad say, ‘step on daddy’s shoes, let him lead you,’” DeMille said.

Gilstrap said the school even had substitute dads to fill in for the fathers who were deployed.

“Friends of the dads stepped in,” said DeMille with a sigh, “It’s so beautiful.”

Reed said the dance gave the brother or neighbor of deployed Marines the opportunity to give the daughter the same experience as other daughters with fathers there.

“Mary Fay has given us this opportunity to bond with our daughters, and it’s very appreciated,” said Reed with a smile.

As the night came to a close, dads and daughters exchanged smiles as if it was a memory they’d never forget.

“I was raised in a home without a dad,” Gilstrap said. “These are the memories that I wish I had. These daughters will keep this memory for the rest of their lives.”

Ellie