Photos and text by Breeana Greenberg
As a thank you to its supporters, the Dana Point 5th Marine Regiment Support Group (DPSG) held its Adventure Day at Camp Pendleton on Saturday, Aug. 27. The one-of-a-kind event gives the DPSG supporters a chance to watch demonstrations and participate in hands-on activities to learn more about the lives of U.S. Marines.
With each Adventure Day, DPSG President Terry Rifkin said she hopes that attendees come away with a “better understanding of the dedication and commitment of our warfighters.”
More than 75 military personnel volunteered throughout the day, giving demonstrations and driving attendees across Camp Pendleton in military vehicles.
Attendees were given tours of the Memorial Park, the Captain Trevor J. Yurista Martial Arts Facility, the Individual Simulation Marksmanship Trainer, the Infantry Immersion Trainer and a live fire small arms range.
“You’re here because you have left a footprint by your involvement and so we have deep gratitude for everyone here,” Rifkin said, welcoming guests to the 5th Marine Memorial Park. “This is a very special place.”
“In the last 15 years, we’ve participated in the Operation Iraqi Freedom monument, the Operation Enduring Freedom monument, the Purple Heart monument, the Vietnam Memorial and more,” Rifkin continued. “We’re involved in keeping up this very special place and it’s unlike anything else on the base.”
Several Marines gave a demonstration at the martial arts facility, or dojo, where attendees had the chance to try out their martial arts skills on punching bags.
Striving to keep Capt. Trevor Yurista’s memory alive, John Hicks, the keeper of the dojo, shared the fallen servicemember’s story. The Support Group honored Yurista, who died in Afghanistan in 2008, by rededicating the facility after him.
Touring the Infantry Immersion Trainer with Sgt. Maj. Bert Theilen, attendees learned about the scenario-based training complex that provides Marines with simulations to test decision-making skills in a realistic environment.
Following the tour, a group of Marines demonstrated a scenario where hidden shooters attacked the squad entering the training complex, designed to look like a marketplace.
Before getting out on the live fire range, attendees had the chance for target practice with a variety of weaponry at the Individual Simulation Marksmanship Trainer. They later had the opportunity to try their marksmanship at the range with U.S. Marine Corps service rifles.
In addition to catered food, Meals Ready to Eat, or MREs, were available for attendees to taste the field rations.
This event creates better supporters, volunteers and donors, Rifkin said, because it gives them a chance to “be up close and ask questions to understand better what (Marines) go through and their families go through, and to see what the Dana Point Support Group has done on the base to make the lives of the Marines better.”
For some attendees, Adventure Day is the first opportunity they’ve had to go on base at Camp Pendleton.
“Having been on the Support Group for 15 years, to bring the relationships on base of people who have done so much, selflessly and to thank them and also to be able to introduce them to each other and realize they’re part of something exponentially even greater, I think everybody always steps away more excited and more committed to do more,” Rifkin said.
In November 2021, the U.S. Department of Defense presented the Support Group with the “Spirit of Hope” award for its outstanding support of the Marines, Navy Corpsmen and families of the 5th Marine Regiment of the United States Marine Corps headquartered at Camp Pendleton.
The Dana Point 5th Marine Regiment Support Group will host its second largest fundraiser of the year, Laughs for Leathernecks, on Sept. 12.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with the show beginning at 7 p.m. Laughs for Leathernecks will include a silent auction, raffles, dinner and a comedy show at the Irvine Improv comedy club at the Irvine Spectrum.
“We’ll have 125 Marines in our audience, so if they’d like to surround our Leathernecks with love, maybe they’ll come,” Rifken said. “If they’d like to be a part of this great evening with our Marines and support our cause and have a great night of comedy, dinner, silent auction and great raffle prizes, we hope they’ll come.”
Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at email@example.com
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