MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- The smell of vinegar and spices saturated the air as cooks from the surrounding community seasoned more than 450 chicken halves and two full pigs weighing in at 110 pounds each.
The New Bern Military Alliance, a program with the New Bern Chamber of Commerce, hosted the 2014 Spring Chicken Picking at Cherry Point, May 7.
The New Bern Military Alliance’s mission is to create and maintain a relationship between New Bern businesses and Cherry Point through events such as the Chicken Picking.
Since March of 2005, the committee has been hosting the Spring Chicken Picking. The event occurs twice a year in May and October and is conducted to thank service members for their dedication and commitment toward protecting the United States and its freedom.
“The purpose of the Chicken Picking is to come down and do something nice for the young, single Marines who live on base in the barracks,” said Kevin Roberts, the executive director of the New Bern Chamber of Commerce.
Aside from the Chicken Picking, the alliance host events for all demographics of the base, including single Marines, Marines and their families, and deployed spouses from all of the squadrons.
The Marines participated in games, listened to music and socialized with one another and the volunteers.
“We try to have these business people who are down here cooking and volunteering to mix and mingle with the Marines to find out a little bit about their world and what they do and let them know that we appreciate what they are doing for us,” said Roberts.
Just as the volunteers displayed their appreciation for the Marines, the Marines enjoyed the time and effort the alliance contributed to giving them a day of fun in the sun.
“I had a fantastic time and really appreciate all the time and effort put into hosting such a wonderful event for us,” said Cpl. Matthew D. Hertzog, an administrative specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron at Cherry Point. “Being able to walk right out of work and step into a fun event with free food is such a blessing – to go from stressed out and exhausted to happy and relaxed is an amazing feeling.”
Although it was Hertzog’s first time attending the event he recommended that the attendance of all Marines should be highly encouraged because it provides the Marines with an opportunity to build camaraderie with their unit and units all over the base.
“In my opinion, these (events) should never be mandatory because ‘mandatory fun’ takes all the fun out of it ,” said Hertzog. “As young single Marines, it is a great way to enjoy yourself while not spending money as well as a great way to get to know your chain of command.”
Aside from the Spring Chicken Picking, the alliance has events every month for military members and their families such as the Military Family of the Quarter, the Commanding Officer’s Christmas Reception and a deployed spouse’s event.
For more information on the upcoming events, contact the Community Plans and Liaison Office at (252) 466-4196 or contact the New Bern Military Alliance Committee.