CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa - The aroma of food filled the air throughout the festival as Marines and their families enjoyed each other’s company while competing to decide who would win the annual Firebird Festival Trophy.
Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, known as the Firebirds, hosted the second-annual Firebird Festival Aug. 16 at Camp Foster for members of the unit and their families.
“The purpose of the festival is to help build camaraderie, not only as a squadron but as a family,” said Lt. Col. Nick I. Brown, the commanding officer of MWSS-172, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “A lot of people in the unit do not have family over here in Okinawa, so it’s important to ensure they realize the Marines in this squadron are close like a family.”
The festival was composed of several events that the Marines, separated by company, competed in. Events included ultimate Frisbee, flag football, graffiti wall-painting, and a pie, marshmallow and hotdog-eating contests.
“The festival was a lot of fun,” said Pfc. Logan K. White, a motor vehicle operator with the squadron. “Spending time with the rest of the unit like this was really enjoyable. It helped bring me closer with the Marines of my squadron.”
The events tested the Marines across a wide range of activities, including athletic ability, creativity and teamwork. The winners of the competitions were determined by a group of judges, including the squadron’s sergeant major and commanding officer.
“With each event being judged to win this year’s Firebird Trophy, each team is taking the events seriously to impress us judges and to show off their skills outside of the work environment,” said Sgt. Maj. Stephen W. Muller, the squadron sergeant major. “The graffiti wall-painting competition gave the Marines an opportunity to use their creative side and represent their companies through artwork.”
The flag football tournament was the final event, which helped decide the first-place winner.
“The flag football games were intense,” said Staff Sgt. Talan J. Wyenandt, the operations chief for the squadron. “The teams came out and gave their all. They weren’t afraid to get a little (aggressive) if they had to.”
The festival was a great success, according to Sabrina Herring, the family readiness officer for the squadron.
“Everyone came out and had a good time,” said Herring. “It was a great opportunity for the squadron as a whole to interact outside of their usual work environment and become closer as a family.”
Once the festival’s events ended, it was time to award the Firebird Festival Trophy.
“It was a close (competition) this year, however, in the end, Motor Transportation Company won the trophy,” said Brown. “Their hard work after hours preparing for all the events paid off.”