Air Force Featured Stories

All colors fade to mud

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joshua King
  • Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs
Marines and Airmen crawled and carried one another through the pouring rain, and as their tan and green uniforms got covered with mud, the service members looked like the joint fighting force that they are.

During a three-week Marine Corps Martial Arts Program course Airmen were taught self-defense and close-quarter combat skills by their Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst neighbors and sister service, the Marines.

"After the first week we did a combat conditioning where it was complete mud and water," said Marine Gunnery Sgt. Lucio Bernabe, assigned to the Marine Aircraft Group 49 and a MCMAP instructor. "At that point is when they converted over, like 'let's just go for it 100 percent, let's get dirty, let's get into it.' I think from that it started clicking."

MCMAP teaches service members techniques in unarmed, edged weapons, rifle and bayonet combat. It also teaches mental and character development, including responsible use of force and teamwork.

"When I first started I didn't think I could do it," said Airman 1st Class Mashia Wong-Holly, an 87th Mental Health Clinic medical technician. "I was in pain, I would go to work limping, but as the days go on we get better at it."

Throughout the three weeks of training, the students developed a bond with their sister service instructors who pushed their students hard.

"MCMAP is pretty much a sport where your pain tolerance changes," said Marine Sgt. Teliah Wilson, the MAG 49 adjutant and MCMAP instructor. "It's not that you accept more pain but how to tolerate more pain with your inner discipline."

Being at a joint base offers a unique opportunity for training, further enabling the vital interoperability needed when deployed in a joint environment. During deployments all branches of the military live, eat and work together in a joint environment -- having the opportunity to train together stateside helps for a seamless transition downrange.

"The instructors motivated me," Wong-Holly said. "Some days I didn't want to come but I did. They are very easy to talk to they go step by step. As long as you're open-minded and willing to go the extra mile for it, it's a great environment, everyone here is pushing everybody to do better."

After three weeks of tireless training, from 5-7 a.m. each morning, the instructors evaluated each student in a test for their tan belt in the MCMAP program. They all passed.

"It's always a very boastful thing (working with other services), you always want to compete, 'Marines are better than the Army, Army is better than the Air Force,' so on and so forth," Bernarbe said. "But when you deploy, it’s one team, one fight. That's the one thing I wanted to tell them and send that message -- no matter what, we're all working together. We may talk smack a little bit or dig at each other a little bit, but at the end of the day we are working together to protect our nation.”