MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
There is warmth in the air as community members, families and service members sit with one another at long, crowded tables, their plates overflowing with fresh-off-the-grill food.
Marines assigned to Marine Attack Training Squadron 203, Marine Aircraft Group 14, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, gathered with their families to participate in the annual Pig Pickin’, sponsored by the Havelock Military Affairs Committee at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, March 30, 2017.
More than 200 Marines, family members, and members of the Havelock community attended the event and enjoyed a feast of pork, baked beans, potato salad and much more. The Havelock MAC started the Pig Pickin’ tradition in 1992 as a way to show community support of service members on the air station, increase unit morale, and reconnect Marines with their families.
“Our unit works pretty long hours,” said Lt. Col. James Vallario, the commanding officer of VMAT-203. “We have an enduring mission that never ends. It’s pretty important for us to take a deep breath, take a day off, and re-engage with the community; get the families together, and have a good time.”
The Havelock MAC offered games such as corn hole, an egg hunt, and a chance to come together with the Havelock community while relaxing with fellow Marines and families at the Hancock Lodge aboard the air station.
“It builds unit cohesion and morale,” said Cassandra Porter, the family readiness officer with VMAT-203. “We don’t get to be together very often, because of our training schedule. With this event, we get to incorporate all these activities with people from the community coming here to express their gratitude to what our Marines do every single day.”
According to Mike Thompson, chairman of the Havelock MAC, the Pig Pickin’ is the community’s way of saying thank you to the Marines for all they do. Not many events offer the community, military and their families a chance to come together quite like it.
“I just think it’s so important for the community and the nation as a whole to respect the military and the veterans,” said Thompson. “Because that is what gives us our freedom.”