June 14, 2012

Sandsharks tear up sand dunes postdeployment

Cpl. Laura Cardoso
Desert Warrior Staff
Photo by Cpl. Laura Cardoso
A Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 Marine waits to ride his off-road vehicle during Operation Adrenaline Rush at the Imperial Dunes in California, June 6. The program, put on by Arizona Adventures, is designed to relieve stress levels of redeployed Marines.

Seven months in a foreign country, under high levels of stress, with little to no sleep, can leave a Marine worn and torn. In the past this may have led to poor behavior, but in today’s day and age outlets such as Arizona Adventures ensure Marines are provided with the best help possible.

Adjusting from a high-level stress area to garrison life can be difficult for many Marines which is why Arizona Adventures stepped in with Operation Adrenaline Rush. OAR was formed specifically for deployed units coming home.

OAR gives redeployed Marines a chance to decompress through stimulating activities in a safe environment, such as a day riding Arizona’s sand dunes.

MWSS-371 recently returned home from a long and arduous deployment in Afghanistan, in which they provided the aviation combat element with logistical support.

“Right off the bat, we hit the ground running,” said 1st Lt. Andrew Stueven, MWSS-371 motor transportation operations platoon commander.  “We had a mission right away and never really stopped. We were busy doing several missions throughout the deployment.”

MWSS-371’s mission included providing motor transport for aircraft recovery missions; transporting personnel and equipment to helicopter landing zones, supporting maintenance by fixing and setting up landing zones and dealing with added stressors like IEDs and unfavorable weather conditions.

“The professionalism, however,  of my Marines was incredible,” said Stueven. “They all handled themselves with the utmost professionalism, always working together and helping each other out. It was incredible.

After being in Afghanistan for six months, the transition back to garrison can take some time. “In a deployed environment, it is very fast paced, there is a lot of adrenaline going on a lot of the times and Marines tend to replace that once they get back with unhealthy activities so this is an alternative to that,” said Chief Warrant Officer II Stephen Chesser, Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 motor transportation maintenance officer.

Bill Cardenas, Marine Corps Community Services outdoor director, works with returning squadrons to organize these great events. “We have the quads, the razors and we are having a lot of fun with the Marines.”

This is the first time Marines participated in an event with the off-road equipment and it proved to be a big hit.

“It actually releases a lot of stress and builds unit cohesion with us,” said Cpl. David Ortiz, MWSS-371 Motor transportation mechanic. “This is helping us see each other in a different environment and build stronger bonds.  The adrenaline, when going through convoys, is a different kind of adrenaline than we see here. Here we have to remain vigilant but it’s also fun adrenaline,” Ortiz added.

The Marines spent several hours riding the sand dunes, easing back in to life in the U.S.

Helmets to be used by Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 as part of post deployment activities, June 6, put on by Arizona Adventures.

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