RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Fifteen young Marines got to see something special demonstrated at Kirtland Air Force Base on Saturday.
Or, to be more precise, it’s what they couldn’t see that amazed them.
In an undeveloped area in the southern part of the base, a Marine from the 4th Reconnaissance Battalion’s Delta Company, part of the Marine Forces Reserve, demonstrated his ability to hide as part of a presentation for the Enchanted Hills Young Marines out of Rio Rancho.
The Young Marines — a group of 14 boys and a girl, ranging in age from 8 to 15 — were on a weekend trip at Kirtland. For the demonstration, a member of the reconnaissance battalion (he said he preferred his name not be used) donned a ghillie suit — an elaborate piece of camouflage clothing — and disappeared into a patch of sagebrush and piñon trees at the foot of the Manzano Mountains.
Charles Walters, the unit commander for the Enchanted Hills Young Marines, led the group to within about 7 feet of the camouflaged Marine, who was covered in native foliage.
The primary mission of the 4th Reconnaissance Battalion is to sneak behind enemy lines and bring back valuable information without ever being noticed. And it wasn’t until the group was almost on top of him that the hidden Marine stood up and let himself be seen.
The 150th Special Operations Wing of the Air National Guard also helped support the weekend trip. In addition to learning about camouflage and painting their faces green and brown, the Young Marines learned about leadership and first-aid and did some rock climbing.
The goals for the group, Walters said, are to help keep young people off drugs and be physically active.
Ten-year-old Charles Irvin has been a dedicated member of the Young Marines since around the time Walters came on as unit commander last July. He said he enjoys being part of the group because he gets to exercise and play with the other kids.
Elise Sherrill, who is 13 and the only girl in the group, said she likes the group because she gets free food, like the MREs the group had for lunch on Saturday, and because “it’s entertaining.
“And there aren’t other girls,” she said.
According to Anthony Derieux, executive officer for the Young Marines, the trip was also rewarding for the adults in the group
“The kids are just great,” he said. “And it’s a lot of fun.”