MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Assigned to the 1st Reindeer Division, Marine Corps Base North Pole, Gunny Claus visited local service members and their families to spread Christmas cheer at the USO of North Carolina Jacksonville Center, Dec. 14.
More than 300 service members and their families shared their wish list with Gunny Claus and his patented Dress Reds over breakfast.
Since 2002, Gunny Claus has visited numerous Marine Corps Installations, giving back to the Marine Corps during the holidays by comforting children with deployed parents.
“The Marine Corps is about family,” said Claus. “When I started doing this, I decided putting the uniform back on could display a familiar uniform and hopefully comfort the children. The most popular request I get is children asking for their mom or dad to come back from a deployment.”
Gunny Claus proudly wears his scarlet and white uniform, signifying the colors of his counterpart, Santa Claus. His chest is adorned with medals signifying the wars Marines have fought during Christmas since 1918. His service stripes signify the amount of years Marines have been away from their families over the holidays.
“He does an amazing thing for the Marines and their families during the holidays,” said Staff Sgt. Jose M. Nieves,
Distribution Management Office staff noncommissioned officer in charge with Headquarters and Support Battalion. “He’s a Marine, and he takes care of us as any fellow Marine would. He does nothing short of bring joy to the military community during
Gunny Claus has already visited more than 11,000 children this year.
“My kids are excited to see Gunny Claus,” said Nieves. “The family-friendly environment brings all of us closer together during the holidays. It’s good to see Marines helping each other out.”
Gunny Claus and the 1st Reindeer Division’s goal is to support the many children of service members serving in harm’s way.
Some children who visited Gunny Claus even declared him cooler than Santa, promising to visit him every year.
“Marines are family to one another,” said Gunny Claus. “This is my way of serving the community. Seeing the smile on the children’s faces makes it all worth it.”
For more information on Gunny Claus or to see his schedule, visit www.gunnyclaus.org.