Lejeune Marines spread goodwill, learn about cultures

19 Jul 2002 | 2nd Lt. Christopher C. Wilson

Marines and sailors of 1st Battalion, 6th Marines recently traveled to Vladivostok, Russia during a goodwill tour to help strengthen relations between United States and Russian armed forces.

The trip also allowed the unit, currently deployed to Japan as part of the Marine Corps' Unit Deployment Program, to get in some training at sea aboard the USS Fort McHenry.

Highlights of the unit's stop in Vladivostok include a static display 1/6 set up for the city's Russian Marine Support Contingent, a martial arts exhibition by a detachment from 4th Marine Regiment, a tour of a Russian naval ship, visits from local schools and orphanages, and an Independence Day reception aboard the USS Chancellorsville. The Marines and sailors were also treated to an exhibition volleyball match with a professional Russian team at the team's Olympic training center.

The trip also allowed 1/6 and the ship's crew a chance to learn more about the Japanese by visiting Sasebo, Japan, for a few days of liberty.

There, many service members visited Nagasaki to tour "Peace Park," considered the epicenter of where the atomic bomb landed on August 9, 1945.  They also visited the atomic bomb museum and the only Confucian shrine built outside of China by Chinese hands.

"These Marines worked very hard," said Maj. Charles A. Western, executive officer, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines. "Every time a Russian service member stepped aboard this ship, there was a camouflaged face starring right back. They really worked hard to make this a successful exercise, and it showed."