It’s not uncommon for Marines to go back to college while on active duty. Marine Attack Squadron 214 Marines take it several steps further and returned all the way to elementary school.
That’s because VMA- 214 has sent out Marines once a week since October 2010 to C.W. McGraw Elementary School in an effort to reach out to the community and provide the younger Yumans role models.
Eight Marines with the fabled Black Sheep squadron returned to McGraw Oct. 10, the first time since the start of the 2013 school year.
“We wanted to start helping out in the community,” said Sgt. Ranulfo Aguirre, a VMA-214 ordnance technician, who spearheaded the program with then squadron sergeant major Sgt. Maj. Leonard Maldonado.
“It helps get the Marines in the community and help the Marines better themselves,” added the Houston native.
During these weekly excursions Marines help the kids with their school work or play with them during recess. If they have questions about the Marine Corps, they’re answered in informing, amusing ways.
“We get a joy out of seeing a smile on their faces,” said Sgt. Ramon Guerrero, a VMA-214 avionics technician and a native of Woodburn, Ore. “As we’re walking back to the office, we hear, ‘Marines, Marines, you’re cool’.”
The relationship acts as a modified mentor program for the kids, and as an educational supplement to for the teachers.
“They (the Marines) are role models to them,” said Ana Amya, a McGraw 1st grade teacher. “When the Marines come out here the kids are excited to learn from them.”
“I think it’s a form of relaxation for the kids,” added Melissa Williams, a McGraw 1st grade student teacher. “They’re very well-behaved when the Marines are here.”
The Marines are often very hands on with the kids, and the kids give back.
“I know how it felt like to not have an older brother,” said Guerrero. “What I get out of this, I get to watch the development of different age groups.”
“We appreciate their service and work,” added Williams. “We support them as they support us.”
Along with VMA-214, VMA-311 has also adopted a school. For more information regarding similar possibilities for community outreach, contact Elena McShane, the base school liaison at (928) 269-5373.