Common bonds
Marines and their famililes gather for picnic, share experiences

Journal Star
Posted Jul 13, 2008 @ 10:22 PM

Carolyn Batey didn't need the comforting this time around.

During the seven months her son, Joe Batey, was serving in Iraq with Company C, 6th Engineer Support Battalion, she said opportunities to interact with the families of other Marines were cherished.

She would find out how they were coping with having their loved ones overseas. She would make sure she wasn't missing out on important information.

"It's nice to hear what the other parents are hearing," she said.

But for this year's family day, all of the Marines in the Peoria-based company, including her son, were home. The most recent group to return from Iraq - about half the 170-member company - came back in April.

The Bateys were among about 250 local Marine reservists and their families who showed up for a picnic Sunday at Ravina on the Lakes. The crowd played softball, volleyball and even a round of tug-of-war in between meals.

The annual picnic was held on a day some of the Marines in the company were actually required to work, said 1st Sgt. Casey Samborski. Like other reserves, the local company usually trains one weekend a month when it's not deployed, he said.

But once they were finished, those Marines took part in the event, which Samborski said is held largely to keep families in the know about the unit.

"It gives them a chance to see what their Marines actually do," he said.

This was Collin Craig's first family day.

The 19-year-old from Quincy said he joined the reserves in March. He was unsure whether he wanted to go to college, and the Marines seemed a good opportunity to travel.

So far, he said he's been happy with the group he serves with.

"They let you in - they look out for you," he said.

And while he has yet to be deployed, Craig said he holds no illusions about the likelihood he will end up overseas.

Like the rest of Company C, he's not scheduled to leave anytime soon, but that could change at any time. He said he was told when he signed up that it was only a matter of time.

"If it happens, it happens," he said. "I'm ready for it."

The picnic, which was organized by Ravina on the Lakes staff, is a good example of how the Peoria area has supported the local Marine company, said Major David Haney, who commands the reserve unit.

Haney, who was deployed in Iraq with the group that came back in April, said Peorians sent letters of encouragement and care packages to the company while they were gone.

"Everything I could ask for, Peoria's done," he said.

Joe Crawford can be reached at 686-3251 or