Iwo Jima Sailors, Marines Enjoy Spanish Hospitality

Iwo Jima Sailors, Marines Enjoy Spanish Hospitality

Sailors aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and Marines assigned to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) experienced the local culture and cuisine of Rota, Spain, during a regularly scheduled port visit Nov. 11-13.

Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) offered tours for servicemembers such as watching a flamenco show, exploring the Rock of Gibraltar and the ancient city of Ronda and even descending into a canyon at Garganta Verde.

“Since Great Britain wasn’t one of our stops, Gibraltar was a great chance to experience the British culture,” said Intelligence Specialist 3rd Class Gabrielle Pettit.The local monkeys were the best part.”

Along with the tours, servicemembers explored Rota and neighboring cities such as Cadiz and Seville.

“Since this is our second time in Rota, I had a better idea of how to get around,” said Operations Specialist 3rd Class Tamara Evans. “I was able to navigate and take the train to Seville. I loved watching Spain’s beautiful landscape and walking the streets like a local.”

MWR Rota hosted a fleet bash for Sailors and Marines at the enlisted club. The event included volleyball, horse shoes, food and live music.

Sailors and Marines engaged in some friendly competitions in basketball and in a golf tournament. Iwo Jima Sailors and Marines teamed up against the Naval Station Rota basketball team with Iwo Jima’s team coming out on top. The golf tournament was a four person scramble with prizes for the best and worst teams.

“A lot of the Sailors and Marines never played together, but our team came together and played like a well-oiled machine,” said Master Sgt. Marvin Caulk. “We won the basketball tournament and I would put our team up against anyone.”

The port visit was wrapped up with a reception held onboard Iwo Jima celebrating the centennial birthday of U.S. Marine Corps aviation. The honorable Alan D. Solomont, U.S. Ambassador to Spain; Adm. Bruce W. Clingan, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and Vice Adm. Fernando Querol, Spanish Navy, Chief of Logistics Support for the Bay of Cadiz, addressed guests commemorating the monumental occasion.

“This celebration took place at a base that is a model for successful cooperation between our navies and a friendship among our people,” said Querol.

Querol emphasized the influence that the United States military aviation capabilities have had on the Spanish military where they import American made aircraft and conduct joint pilot training within the United States.

“We’d like to thank the Spanish Navy and U.S. Navy League in hosting us in Rota,” explains Capt. Grady Banister, commanding officer USS Iwo Jima, of the ship’s visit while in Spain. “Their hospitality is without equal. Iwo Jima had a wonderful port visit in Rota, Spain.”

Iwo Jima, along with the 24th MEU, is currently deployed supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

Naval Today Staff, November 20, 2012; Image: US Navy