MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. --
As yellow balloons swayed in the cool evening breeze at the Beaufort Marina, a crowd of military spouses boarded The Spirit of Harbour Town for a three-hour Yellow Ribbon Cruise, sponsored by the Marine Corps Community Services Sept. 28.
The Yellow Ribbon Cruise is a semi-annual event that brings the spouses of deployed service members together from Marine Aircraft Group 31 and other units aboard the Air Station.
With a final word from Col. Gregg Brinegar, the commanding officer of MAG-31, and a blessing from Lt. Cmdr. Marcus Lawrence, the Air Station command chaplain, the ship officially set sail and the spouses enjoyed a dinner of prime rib or chicken.
The dinner and cruise gave attendees a chance to meet new people and find support from other military spouses.
“I think it’s important to get involved,” said Sarah Foster, wife of a pilot from Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 86. “It helps morale, and it helps us get through the deployment by breaking up the time.”
Even though there are fewer units deployed this year than this time last year, more than 70 women participated in the Yellow Ribbon Cruise, making it the largest attendance for an event like this, said Theresa Thoma, the Marine Corps Family Team Building program coordinator.
For many of the attendees, this was their first deployment. With programs like the Key Volunteer Network, Spouses Learning Series, Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program and more, the spouses are able to come together and form a personal support network, Thoma explained.
“It’s our first deployment,” said Jennifer Edmonds. “We just got married and it’s a little tough, but I’m managing.” Edmonds’ husband is an aviation mechanic with VFA-86.
Unit participation, in conjunction with the KV Network, helps ensure that the military spouses are taken care of and remain informed about the status of their service members, regardless of what unit they belong to. It’s an environment to come together to talk and share their deployment experiences with others.
“The programs available for spouses of deployed service members are growing,” Thoma added. “Participation (with KVN) has created a good reputation and people are hearing that it’s fun.”
These events are important for the morale of the spouses, and to honor the deployed service members by taking care of their families and connecting with the community, Thoma said.
“It’s important to give us a chance to come together, bond and see the positive side of deployments,” said Katherine Woodward, whose husband is a pilot with VFA-86.
With multiple squadrons and detachments from Fightertown constantly deploying, it’s the spouses’ responsibility to continue the morale and success of the military community and their families, said Thoma.
“It’s stressful, but we make the best of it by staying together and supporting our troops overseas,” Woodward added.
To sign up or for more information about upcoming Yellow Ribbon events, contact your KVN representative or Ms. Thoma at 228-6141.