22D MEU (SOC) visits historic Sicily
Submitted by: 22nd MEU
Story Identification Number: 200111252132
Story by Lance Cpl. Kevin R. Reed, Combat Photographer

SICILY, Italy(January 3, 2001) -- Several Marines and sailors from the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operation Capable), embarked on the USS Nassau experienced Sicilian culture during their holiday liberty port, January 3rd.

The MEU's warriors were afforded a unique opportunity to visit Sicily through Morale, Welfare, and Recreation services, and the United Service Organization. The wariors spent the night at a local hotel, ate Sicilian cuisine at the local restaurants and visited many historical sights before returning to the USS Nassau the next evening.

The tour, dubbed "Over Night in Sicily," was rich in Sicilian heritage and culture. The warriors turned tourists spent two days roaming the Italian island enjoying the beautiful scenery. They visited a variety of places on the island ranging from an ancient Greek amphitheater to Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe.

Lance Cpl. John S. Bullock, from Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, Weapons Company, Anti-Armor Platoon, gave rave reviews of the Sicily tour. "It was great," said the Gainesville, Floridian. "The tour guide was looking for things for us to do, asking what we wanted to see. It was nice that she looked out for our interest. It was a chance to do what we wanted to do."

Chief Petty Officer John G. Stewart, from Bayshore Long Island, New York, said the tour was simply, "awesome." "It was a combination of the hospitality, the food, the sights and the people," explained the BLT 1/8 Preventive Medicine Chief. Chief Stewart further stated that, "I always wanted to go and I finally got the chance to do it."

The success of the trip was attributed to a very enthusiastic Georgia (tour guide) said Chief Stewart. Chief Stewart stated that, "without her wanting us to see the sights; it wouldn't have been as enjoyable. The people she took us to meet just opened their arms to us and let us in to their homes. I would pass this tour onto anybody," he concluded.

"It was really interesting with a lot of historical value," said Sgt. Brent A Dowland, from Houston, Texas. "The Greek amphitheater was the best part of the tour because of the similarities between ancient and modern traditions and living environments. I would do it again to enhance my knowledge of ancient Sicily." Dowland said he "definitely" would recommend this tour to his young Marines.

For more information about this story and what the 22d MEU is doing, visit their website at http://www.usmc.mil/22meu