Photo Information

Sgt. Francisco Peralta congratulates a child at Camp Kindle West’s summer camp here July 15. Peralta and five other Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit volunteered at the camp and brought Humvees and military equipment for the children to experience. During the day, the Marines spent time coaching archery, telling the campers about their jobs and zipping down a zip line.

Photo by Sgt. Scott M. Biscuiti

For volunteer, day with AIDS children 'most rewarding' Corps experience

15 Jul 2009 | Sgt. Scott M. Biscuiti 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Six Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s command element spent July 15 volunteering at Camp Kindle West, a summer camp here for children either infected or affected by HIV or AIDS.

The children spent a week filled with educational development including health and character education and  recreational activities including archery, sports and a zip line. This year the students got a surprise:

When the Marines pulled up to the camp in Humvees, curious looks turned to wide eyes as the campers realized the Marines were there for them.

“I was nervous at first,” said Cpl. Amber Gaskill, 21, a volunteer. “I expected them to be more reserved, but when they saw the trucks, they went nuts.”

The Marines made fast friends. The children came in groups of about 10, each climbing on the Humvees, trying on the Marines' body armor and beeping the horn.

“I knew the small boys would like it,” said Nichol Costa, director of camping programs for Camp Kindle. “But everyone really loved having (the Marines) here.”

In addition to the show-and-tell, the Marines ate lunch with the campers, zipped down a zip line and helped the kids shoot archery targets.

Costa praised the Marines for sharing their time with the campers and letting the children see what Marines do.
“The group was very friendly and great with the kids,” she said.

The visit was especially meaningful for Gaskill, a Tempe, Ariz., native, who said she joined the Marine Corps to help people.

“We help people in other countries all the time, and it’s nice to help others here at home,” she said.

For Gaskill, the best part of her day was spending time with a camper named Devante, a boy confined to a wheelchair who sat in a Humvee driver seat, working the controls and beeping the horn.

“He said it was the highlight of his life,” Gaskill recalled. “Out of all the things I’ve done in the Marine Corps, it was the most rewarding.”

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

11th Marine Expeditionary Unit