MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
A hiss emanated from the large fryer as a screen lined with fish was lowered in, the cooks – Marines and civilians with the Jacksonville-Onslow Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee talked and joked as they cooked several trays of fillets.
Marines and sailors, happy for some time away from work and free food, crowded Liversedge Field aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Sept. 21. They lined up in order to receive a variety of foods such as fried fish, hush puppies, coleslaw and French fries. They ate under tents and people who may have never spoken to one another sat across from each other and talked.
“It’s a good way to get Marines out of the barracks,” said Lance Cpl Yelijha Epps, a pay clerk with Headquarters and Support Battalion on MCB Camp Lejeune, who was present at the event.
Prizes were given away including t-shirts, water bottles and gift cards.
The fish fry, one of five throughout the year, was held to thank service members, give them some time together and introduce them to the community, said Amy Rivera, the community relationship and military affairs manager with the Jacksonville-Onslow Chamber of Commerce.
The committee is made up of service members and members of the community who meet monthly to maintain an informal communication link between the community, MCB Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River, according to the Jacksonville Onslow Chamber of Commerce website.
“The fish fry is a great example of showing appreciation to the Marines and sailors of MCB Camp Lejeune by the Military Affairs Committee and the
Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce,” said Col. Grover C. Lewis III, the assistant chief of staff and director of Security and Emergency Services aboard MCB Camp Lejeune. “Both are committed to continuous relationship building between the citizens of Onslow County and the military bases. It is a model for all other communities to emulate. They share great respect, trust and confidence and depend on each other for support.”
The committee also recognizes the service member of the month and the service member of the year.
“We want to instill good will, introduce new folks to the community and say thank you,” said Rivera.
Col. Daniel J. Lecce, the commanding officer of MCB Camp Lejeune, said it’s good to connect Marines with the community, including Military Affairs Committee leaders. He added that camaraderie is important for the Marines and sailors.
“We appreciate the things (Marines and sailors) do,” Rivera added.
The next fish fry is scheduled for Oct. 19 at Courthouse Bay, aboard the base.