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thedrifter
05-12-06, 06:47 AM
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan (May 11, 2006) -- Many military spouses often go their entire lives without actually seeing their loved ones on the job, but for Marines spouses here, they were able to do more than just observe.

Approximately 39 spouses from Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron arrived to take part in this year's Spouse's Day April 27.

"This day, for me, is a thanks to you and an opportunity to show you the cool things we do everyday," said Lt. Col. James C. Stewart, commanding officer, during his opening speech for Spouse's Day. "This is a way to put you in the driver's seat."

Marine spouses participated in an all-day field trip seeing and experiencing some of the things Marines attached to H&HS do on a daily basis.

The first event was an F/A-18C making an arrested landing with the help of Aircraft Recovery's M-31 arresting gear. This demonstration showed Marines help an aircraft decelerate as it landed by using an arresting cable, which was caught by the aircraft's tail hook when it landed. This is usually done aboard an aircraft carrier due to its limited runway.

"I thought it was great, said Melody Slater, Bushnell Ill. native and wife of Master Sgt. Benjamin F. Slater, H&HS finance chief. "Although we see each other everyday, we don't get to see the things our husbands do."

After the miniature air show, things heated up with Airfield Rescue Fire Fighting putting on a controlled burn demonstration.

The ARFF Marines poured oil on a water-filled area, setting it on fire. They tried putting it out with water, but the water didn"t affect the oil-driven inferno, so they pushed the fire off the oil with foam, killing the blaze.

"The fire was amazing. You could feel the heat and see the intensity of the fire. It just gives you goose bumps watching it," said Kelly M. Schmitz, Story City, Iowa native and wife of 1st Lt. Scott M. Schmitz, H&HS Air Traffic Controller.

After lunch, the spouses took a more hands-on approach learning about their husbands work activities.

With excitement in their eyes and pistols in their hands, the ladies received a quick safety brief and were on the range ready to shoot.

"The rifle range was my favorite. You hear so much about the military and rifles. I have never shot an M-16 before," said Lacey S. Stephens, Maryland native and wife of Cpl. Daniel S. Stephens, H&HS military police officer. "It felt empowering holding the rifle in my hands."

The rifle range wasn't the only exciting hands-on demonstration. The ladies next stop was one not very many get to see, the inside of an F/A-18C cockpit. This demonstration allowed the spouses to get in a flight simulator, a device used to train real pilots in dealing with troublesome situations.

"The flight simulator was fun. I can shoot a gun any time, but it's not an everyday experience to be inside a jet cockpit," said Stephens. "It's something I would never get to do."

Spouses then drove speed boats near the new pier to see what many station sailors do everyday. Finally, they saw Explosive Ordnance Disposal and ARFF put on a little show-n-tell. The ladies were able to see just how much pressure is released when using a fire hose and what it feels like to put on an EOD-8 bomb suit.

"I would like to thank H&HS for putting this on and the key volunteers. It was a wonderful experience," said Slater. "This gave me a greater appreciation for what you guys do and it let me get behind the lines and see for myself."

Overall, the day allowed Marines to give back to the women who support them day in and day out.

"It was 150 percent successful. I couldn't have asked for anything better," said Maj. Lee A. Cracknell, H&HS S-3 officer-in-charge, who helped coordinate the event. "This was a great way to show appreciation for what the spouses endure - being apart from their husbands so much."

Ellie