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Instructors and staff members with Cherry Point's Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training pose for a photo after completing the Polar Bear Plunge Feb. 28 at Atlantic Beach. The purpose of the three-mile beach and surf run was to enhance camaraderie and strengthen unit cohesion within the training squadron.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Unique B. Roberts

CNATT Polar Bear Plunge builds unit cohesion

10 Mar 2014 | Lance Cpl. Unique Roberts

More than 100 instructors and staff members with Cherry Point’s Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training participated in a Polar Bear Plunge at Atlantic Beach Feb. 28.

Lt. Col. Jaime L. Gutierrez, the commanding officer of CNATT, wanted to get the Marines out of their comfort zone and do something different after a long week of work. The plunge gave the CNATT staff an opportunity to have fun and a team-building experience outside of normal operations, according to Gutierrez.

“I’m excited about it,” said Sgt. Julia M. Russell, an aviation supply specialist with CNATT. “I know it’s going to be cold.”

Gutierrez and Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey V. Dagenhart led the Marines on a winding three-mile run along the beach, going in and out of the ice-cold Atlantic surf.

The water was near freezing, and that was what the Marines expected. The unit ensured a safety vehicle and a corpsman were present while the Marines were conducting the plunge.

As the run came to an end, the commanding officer and sergeant major ran into the almost freezing water, followed by the rest of the instructors and staff.

“The plunge itself is completely different from any other experience that the Marines have experienced before,” said Master Sgt. William O. Fishback, an aircraft maintenance chief with CNATT. “That factor alone builds camaraderie within the unit.”

CNATT fosters a family centric environment within the squadron. The plunge is one example of how the squadron’s leadership develops the bonds between the Marines with CNATT.

“This unit is a cohesive family unit,” said Sgt. Christopher D. Haley, an aircraft electronic countermeasures systems technician with CNATT. “Whenever we have an event or gathering, there is always maximum participation.”

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point