“GUZMAN, GUZMAN, GUZMAN!” At the sound of his name, the Marine smiled, fell out of formation, and walked to the front for the presentation of his gift, a Senegalese Marine Commando shirt.
The pavilion continued to echo with cheers and clapping as members of the Senegalese Fusiliers Marines (SFM) chanted names of Marines with the Security Cooperation Marine Air Ground Task Force (SCMAGTF), Africa Partnership Station 10, during a graduation ceremony, late April 2010.
After wrapping up three weeks of military-to-military familiarization events, where Marines offered instruction on the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, and infantry tactics such as patrolling, motorized operations, and weapons handling, the SCMAGTF and SFM spent the day in celebration, participating in basketball games, soccer matches, and a graduation ceremony and festivities.
“From the minute we observed your amphibious assault landing after we first came ashore in Senegal, you demonstrated you were an extremely professional fighting force” said Lieutenant Colonel John Golden, commanding officer, SCMAGTF, during the closing ceremonies. “We were proud to train alongside you these past three weeks.”
After the speeches and gift-giving came to a close, the Senegalese and US Marines continued the festivities by sampling a myriad of traditional Senegalese food and drinks. Email addresses and phone numbers were exchanged on bits of scrap paper so friends could keep in touch, while the room glittered continuously with flashes from personal cameras and phones.
It wasn’t long before the dancing began. The Senegalese sang traditional chants and songs while tribal dancing around the room and it didn’t take long before they coerced the Marines to join them.
“This is incredible,” said Cpl. Jonathan Cole, a fire team leader with the SCMAGTF.
“The Senegalese really put on a good show for us. This is one of the best times I’ve had here.”
Eventually, the festivities began to die down as the Senegalese returned to their barracks to pack up and leave the camp for their parent commands. Although disappointed to end their time in Thies, both the Marines and Senegalese left with a greater understanding and appreciation of each other’s militaries and culture, and with the hope that next year they could continue the partnership.
“I am sorry to see you go,” said Sergeant Jean Paul Dieme, a rifleman with the SFM.
“Do not forget us.”
Sources: www.africom.mil and US Marine Corps