SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines participated in the 5th annual Gator Week hosted by Expeditionary Strike Group THREE (ESG-3) at Admiral Baker Park May 21 - 23.
Gator Week served as an opportunity to come together as a collective amphibious force in an effort to build companionship, honor the Gator Navy’s heritage and endorse a tone of encouragement across the amphibious force. This year was the first to have a theme: “building resiliency through camaraderie.”
Gator Week not only provided opportunities for members to participate in various athletic tournaments such as basketball games, flag football, and even a cardboard boat regatta, but it also served as an occasion to teach Sailors and Marines about building better resilience.
“This year we decided to do things a bit differently by making Gator Week educational as well,” said Rear Adm. Cedric E. Pringle, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group THREE. “This week is intended to provide some fun competition, but we also asked our first and second class petty officers to take the lead and help their shipmates develop methods for strengthening resilience. Ultimately, my focus is making sure we set the conditions for every single Sailor and Marine to be as successful as possible.”
The event was an all hands effort and involved participation from the ESG-3 First Class Petty Officer Association (FCPOA), Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD), the command Deployed Resiliency team, as well as the local Fleet and Family Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) office.
“Gator Week gave us an avenue to connect Sailors and Marines with helpful resources to develop resiliency,” said Andrew Mauldin, ESG-3 Deployed Resiliency Counselor. “We had a chance to talk about the ways our service members can learn to empower themselves when it comes to dealing with life’s stressors – things like the importance of building connections with each other, learning to accept change, and keeping things in perspective.”
The ESG-3 FCPOA conducted a “Jar of Life” demonstration, which included a mason jar being filled with items of various sizes. The larger items were intended to represent elements most important to living a fulfilled life, such as family, friendships, and health. Smaller items placed into the jar characterized elements that we might enjoy or even need, but don’t necessarily provide contentment.
“We wanted to help our shipmates open their eyes and recognize that we sometimes call things important in our lives that aren’t as essential as we might believe,” said Personnel Specialist 1st Class Mary Brooks, vice-president of ESG-3 FCPOA. “If we can get just one Sailor to see exactly what we mean, that’s a major success for us.”
Sailors and Marines from across the strike group looked forward to taking a break from their normal work agendas to show team spirit and enjoy some friendly competition.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for a while now, but I never knew that we had this much competition within our own strike group,” said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Anthony Stewart, a basketball participant assigned to USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26). “This very much reminds me of when I played with the ‘All-Marine’ basketball team. Plenty of good competition out here and it’s nothing to be taken lightly.”
USS Rushmore (LSD 47) was announced as the winning command for the Gator Week athletic competitions. Rushmore will display the Gator Week trophy for one year, until next year’s competition.
The culminating event of Gator Week for the second year in a row, was the Gator Golf tournament, which was held at Admiral Baker South Golf Course. Approximately 120 golfers participated and USS Makin Island (LHD 8) proudly took home the commander’s cup for this year’s tournament earning a score of 13 under par.
ESG-3 consists of three amphibious squadrons, eight naval support elements and 15 amphibious warships comprised of more than 15,000 active-duty and reserve Sailors and Marines. The mission of ESG-3 is to serve as the command element for Marine expeditionary-brigade level expeditionary operations as commander of an amphibious task force.
For more news from Expeditionary Strike Group 3, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/esg3/.