View Full Version : Marines Do More Than Fight

11-14-02, 07:38 AM
Lance Corporal Linda N. Huynh, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466, distributed beverages to the children of an indigenous tribe called the Aeta at Crow Valley during a community relations project on Luzon Island during Exercise Talon Vision 02. (Photo by LCpl Shane A. Austin)

CAPAS, Republic of the Philippines(Nov. 8, 2002) -- In June 1991, the skies around Mount Pinatubo darkened as the ground began to quake. Suddenly, fire and smoke bellowed from the large mountaintop.

Members of an indigenous tribe, called the Aeta, fled the volcano to a nearby river valley to safety.

The Aeta tribe settled into Crow Valley. A group of 25 Marines and Sailors recently visited there to provide assistance to the Aeta tribe.

During the visit, the volunteers passed out food, clothes and toys to the 110 families living in the area. The event was not only an opportunity for the servicemembers to visit the Aeta tribe, but also to work with their Philippine counterparts as part of Exercise Talon Vision.

Talon Vision is a bilateral training event, which focuses on improving military relations between the Philippines and the U.S. while increasing readiness for both countries.

The exercise emphasizes quality ground and air integrated training at the small-unit level, but humanitarian assistance is also an important part.

Approximately 800 U.S. Marines and Sailors of 3rd Marine Division and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, stationed on Okinawa and Iwakuni, Japan, participated in the
two-week-long exercise.

"This was a great opportunity to lend a helping hand to some people and show the Marines who volunteered what they can do not only as warriors, but as peacekeepers," said Navy Lt. Peter Fremont-Smith, group chaplain, Marine Aircraft Group-12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.

The volunteers brought food, clothing and toys to the people living in the area. The children lined up first, as the servicemembers handed each child juice and snacks. The volunteers then passed out food, clothes and shoes to each person in line.

"We handed out bags of rice as part of the food we gave. After they got their bag of rice, several people said they felt rich," said Lance Cpl. Joe Lunsford, aviation maintenance technician, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron-36, 1st MAW, and Boulder, Colo., native. "It was a great feeling to see how their faces lighted up when we gave them the food and clothes."

After the food and clothing items were passed out, the Marines and Aeta tribe members got to know one another. Many of the children invited the Marines to dance and view their school, which was merely a
20-person tent.

"We sat and talked with several of the children and learned some of their language," Fremont-Smith, a Boston native said. "They can teach us a lot about life and simplicity. I think most of the Marines will walk away changed in some way by this experience."

Several of the Marines said they left with a better knowledge of how the Aeta live.

"It was very different to see how these people live and the differences in our lifestyles in the U.S.," said Lance Cpl. Linda Huynh, administrative clerk, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron-466, 1st MAW, and San Bernardino, Calif., native. "This has been the coolest thing I?ve ever done."

The event was coordinated as a joint effort between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. Marines. Navy Lt. Joselito Tiongson, group chaplain, Marine Aircraft Group-36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, said it was easier to coordinate the event because of the relationship between the two countries.

"Our Philippine Air Force counterparts were an excellent help in working with the local community to allow us to come here," said Tiongson, a Philippines native. "Everything came together well to make this a great day for all of those involved."

Tiongson, one of the primary coordinators of the community relation's event, has a personal relationship with Capt. Jerome Narvasa, a PAF chaplain. The two have been friends ever since they attended seminary together in the Philippines, which proved to be helpful in organizing the event.

"We became good friends in school. Narvasa later joined the PAF, while I moved to the U.S. to continue to study," said Tiongson, who now calls San Diego home.

"We try to stay in touch but it"s very difficult. Because of that, I was happy to come here to be able to see him," he added.

This relationship embodies the spirit of Exercise Talon Vision, a bilateral training exercise of both ground and aviation elements. Throughout the two-week-long exercise, several community events were scheduled, to include a sports day with an all-girls orphanage.

"(The U.S. Marine exercise commander) knows that events like this are important, not only for the people of the Philippines, but also for the Marines who volunteer,"
Fremont-Smith said. "So he provides as much help as he can to support us with these events. For me, it is just a joy to come out here and help."