First taste of snow for Marine
Dip Flat is cooler than CaliforniaANNA WILLIAMS
United States Marine Lance Corporal Uriel Huizache had never seen snow before he came to New Zealand a few weeks ago.
He is one of 22 Marines who finished work yesterday at Dip Flat, in the upper Wairau Valley. Snow fell on the hills around the worksite this week.
The 20-year-old Californian native said the mornings and evenings in the Wairau Valley were pretty cold, especially when compared with the weather he was used to back home. "I've literally never had snow next to me, this was the first time I saw it," he said.
Major Al Mitchell, who grew up in Nelson, led the exercise in which 22 Marines joined forces with 83 army engineers from Palmerston North's Linton camp to build six houses used during training by the NZ Defence Force.
The group had a fictitious scenario in which they had to establish an operating base in an overseas country before other forces arrived.
"It was both an exercise scenario with a real-time outcome," said Major Mitchell.
While training exercises were not uncommon, it was unusual to have the US Marines helping them out. "What's unique about this activity is the Marines-New Zealand Army connection, and we wouldn't always have the opportunity to do a large amount of construction like that."
There were a lot of cultural similarities between the Kiwis and the Americans, especially with their military backgrounds, he said.
Corporal Justin Momeyer, 20, from Ohio, said the Marines came to New Zealand to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the force's arrival in New Zealand to train for the Pacific campaign during World War II.
They added the training on top of that, he said.
They next head to Nelson, then to Christchurch for their first rugby game when the Crusaders take on the Hurricanes tomorrow night.
While the Marines do not get to choose where they are posted, they said New Zealand was one of the better places to be deployed.
- The Marlborough Express