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SAN DIEGO-Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and other units throughout Southern California take the field during a pre-game military appreciation day ceremony at Petco Park July 8. The 11th MEU Marines returned June 21 from a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific, Horn of Africa and Middle East regions., Sgt. Elyssa Quesada, 7/8/2012 3:53 AM

Photo by Sgt. Elyssa Quesada

MEU members honored during pre-game ceremony

8 Jul 2012 | Sgt. Elyssa Quesada

The San Diego Padres honored Marines during a military appreciation day at Petco Park July 8.

Cpls. Brandon Hunt, Jonathan Irizarry and Lance Cpl. Josh Haish each manned a base as part of a pre-game ceremony, representing Battalion Landing Team 3/1, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 (Reinforced) and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit's command element.

The ceremony included a military color guard, members of the all-Marine Warrior Games team and Marines who returned from a seven-month Western Pacific deployment with the 11th MEU.

"I was able to meet two umpires and a player," said Cpl. Jonathan Irizarry, a 26-year-old Westbury, N.Y., native who serves as the help desk chief with the 11th MEU's command element."They thanked me for my service. It felt awesome knowing I'm doing something for this country and people appreciate it."

As the service members entered the stadium, applause followed and individual fans called out thank you.

"It's great to be able to interact and honor service members during a game and let them see how much we appreciate their service," said Alyssa Rivera, a member of the Padres in game entertainment squad.

Staff Sgt. Tamika Elliott of the unit's command element took the field during the seventh inning stretch and sang God Bless America.

"That was the most exhilarating experience and I'm very blessed to have had the opportunity to sing," said Elliott, a 29-year-old Chester, Pa., native and system operations chief with the 11th MEU. Rivera, who has worked many military appreciation days, was able to work with Elliott and the military color guard during the game.

"It's a unique opportunity to be able to work with the Marines," said Rivera. "Not very many people can personally thank a service member for their service, as a representative of the Padres and as a citizen I could do that today," she added.

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11th Marine Expeditionary Unit