Marines make mark in Mazatlan

18 Jan 2004 | Lance Cpl. Daniel J. Fosco 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

It's always good to lend a helping hand to those in need, especially less fortunate children living in a broken down orphanage in want of repair.  Due to a lack of funding, there are not many options available for the orphans here in Mazatlan to improve their living environment.

However, fourteen Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and about 30 sailors from the amphibious assault ship USS Denver answered a call for help and provided humanitarian assistance to the "Orfanatorio de Mazatlan," or "Mazatlan Orphanage" here, Jan. 18.

The humanitarian project lasted about six hours and was coordinated by Navy Lt. M. Giralmo, chaplain, USS Denver.  Marines from MEU Service Support Group 11 (MSSG-11) and sailors from the ship worked together to paint the orphanage's walls, fix electrical problems and clean up the building.

"I'm impressed with their work, their professionalism and their conduct," said Cristina Pena de Herrera, president of the Orfanatorio de Mazatlan.  "Their discipline was very evident."

When the project was complete, the walls were painted with lighter colors, the lighting fixtures were fixed, the rooms were clean, and the staff and children were extremely happy.

"It feels great to help out those who are less fortunate than us and to see the smiles on the little children’s faces," said Sgt. Raymond B. Cotton, radio chief, communications detachment, MSSG-11, 11th MEU.

According to Cotton, it was sad to leave the children at the end of the day because of the bond they had made.  Hopefully, every time the orphanage's staff and children enter one of the bright, freshly painted rooms, they'll think of the Marines and sailors, and smile.

In addition to their humanitarian project, Marines and sailors also had an opportunity to enjoy the liberty here, soaking up three days of sunny weather, ocean scenery and authentic Mexican food.

According to Cpl. A. Phillip Peacock, computer technician, MSSG-11, 11th MEU, this was the first visit to Mexico for many of the Marines and they were very impressed with the way the locals treated Americans.

"We were treated like royalty," he said.  "The food and merchandise were extremely inexpensive and the cab drivers were very friendly.  Anytime the Marines needed directions or information the locals were very eager to help."

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Chris L. Fields, embarkation and combat cargo officer for the USS Denver, said that these Marines were hand picked to go to Mazatlan because they were outstanding Marines. 

"Most of these Marines have never been on ship before, so it was a good experience for them to get a taste of ship life before they deploy later this year (aboard USS Denver)," Fields said.  "It’s also good for them to get used to working with sailors."

According to Peacock, all in all the Marines felt privileged to go to Mazatlan because for some, trips like this come around only once in a blue moon.

The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit is scheduled to leave on a regularly scheduled deployment to the U.S. Central and Pacific Commands early this summer aboard three amphibious assault ships, including the USS Denver.

Marine Corps News

Colonel Thomas M. Siverts
Commanding Officer

Colonel Tom Siverts is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1989. He achieved a commission as a Second Lieutenant through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program following his graduation from the University of Virginia in May 1999. Colonel Siverts has deployed in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. His other operational deployments include serving with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/8, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU); BLT 3/8, 22d MEU; BLT 2/8, 26th MEU, and Task Force 61/2.

Read Biography

Lieutenant Col. Steven M. Sprigg
Executive Officer

LtCol Sprigg was born in Parkersburg, WV. LtCol Sprigg enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in September 2004 and recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. LtCol Sprigg was selected for the Enlisted Commissioning Program and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in March 2008. He was designated a Naval Aviator in February 2011 and reported to HMLAT-303 for training as an AH-1W pilot. LtCol Sprigg is currently serving as the Executive Officer for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Camp Pendleton, California.

Read Biography

Sergeant Major Travis L. DeBarr
Sergeant Major

Sergeant Major DeBarr enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported to MCRD San Diego, CA, for recruit training in October 1994.Staff Sergeant DeBarr completed two combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2005 to April 2006 and again form March 2007 to September 2007. While serving with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, First Sergeant DeBarr completed one combat deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from October 2012 to May 2013. Sergeant Major DeBarr currently serves as the Sergeant Major for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Read Biography