SAN DIEGO -- The crowd erupted into cheers and applause as the honored guests stepped onto the field. Although it was typical sunny Southern Californian weather, it was no ordinary day when the Marines showed up to the Padres game. To celebrate their return from a Western Pacific deployment, Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit attended the San Diego Padres’ Marine Corps Appreciation Day at PETCO Park in San Diego, May 19. During the event, Marines from the MEU stepped onto the field in front of thousands as the 15th MEU Command Element, Battalion Landing Team 3/5, Combat Logistics Battalion 15 and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364 (Rein.) lined the bases. “I was recognized as the Command Element representative for our returning unit,” said Sgt. Thomas G. Ochoa, motor transportation maintenance chief, Command Element, 15th MEU. “It was definitely an exciting experience standing on the field with the same point of view as the team. It was also an honor to be chosen as one of the MEU’s representatives. I never expected to be standing on the home plate in front of such a huge crowd,” added the 29-year-old native of Los Angeles. Drill instructors from Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego joined the MEU on the field as they were honored for their dedication to duty turning recruits into Marines. The 15th MEU’s color guard also attended, displaying the American flag and Marine Corps colors proudly when the Marine’s Hymn and Star-Spangled Banner were played.
“My fellow Marines and I, with the 15th MEU color guard, marched onto the field and [displayed the] colors,” said Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Hendrix, administration specialist, Command Element, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. “This was my second time attending a Padres game and my third color guard ceremony. It was great and an honor to perform in front of such a crowd. I get a sense of pride protecting the colors as a rifleman and was very proud to show off our hard work leading up to the event,” added the 21-year-old native of McLeansville, N.C. When the national anthem was over, nine Marines took positions on the field where they met the starting Padres players before the game kicked off. Colonel Scott D. Campbell, commanding officer, 15th MEU threw the opening pitch to commence the all-American game of baseball.