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NEWS | March 26, 2024

Marines, Sailors Participate in Holi Festival and Community Events at Tiger TRIUMPH

By 1st Lt. Robert Nanna, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Marines and Sailors of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit embraced India's culture during celebrations, athletic exchanges, and community relations engagements as they participate in Exercise Tiger TRIUMPH 2024.

Currently in the harbor phase, Exercise Tiger TRIUMPH's third iteration incorporated multiple community relations engagement opportunities, friendly sports competitions, and for the first time, participation by Marines and Sailors in a Holi celebration alongside service members from the Indian Armed Forces.

Over 200 Marines and Sailors who arrived to Visakhapatnam aboard the amphibious transport dock USS Somerset (LPD 25) took the opportunity to join their Indian counterparts to develop relationships and strengthen camaraderie outside of the scheduled military training events, as well as with members of the local community.

“These events are a great opportunity for us to make an impact in the community and strengthen bonds with our counterparts,” said U.S. Marine Corps Warrant Officer Linda Gonzalez, a mobility officer assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th MEU. “As a female officer, I enjoy participating in these events, whether it be talking with cadets at a university or at a Holi festival, to show and encourage young women that they are and can be the leaders for the next generation.”

On March 22-23, U.S. and Indian service members held two days of athletic exchanges including basketball and volleyball with both countries joining together on integrated teams for the final competitions. An instructor-led, sunrise yoga session was also held to round out the two days of sports.

Andhra University and a foster home for boys in Visakhapatnam hosted Marines and Sailors for community relations events on March 23. Over 100 Marines and Sailors participated in both events.

At the foster home, Marines and Sailors joined children ranging from ages 5 to 18 in a series of events including volleyball, tug-of-war, mural painting, local children’s games, and culminating with a musical chairs competition. To cement the partnership built throughout the day, Marines and Sailors assisted the young children as they planted a new tree in their garden.

Marines and Sailors also visited the American Corner at Andhra University, a space that encourages dynamic conversations based on local youth interests. Events there included the planting of a tree, painting of a “U.S.-India Together” mural, and discussions with students and the Indian National Cadet Corps with U.S. Navy Capt. Michel Brandt, commanding officer of Somerset, and U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Lindsay Mathwick, commanding officer of CLB-15, 15th MEU, and commander of troops aboard Somerset.

“When I was in their position, I remember the impact guest speakers had on our development as young leaders,” said Mathwick. “I hope our visit and interactions here today leave a similar mark. As impressive as the cadets were in their poise, professionalism, and thoughtful questions, I have great confidence in the future of leadership in India”

On March 25, nearly 300 service members from the U.S. and Indian Armed Forces came together to celebrate Holi, the festival of colors that marks the onset of spring in India. Marines and Sailors were greeted with a dusting of chalk sparking the colorful celebration. They were led through dancing and music by the Bhangra Dance Team and Dholak Band Team and treated with customary refreshments traditionally enjoyed in the holiday that marks the victory of good over evil.

“While we work together at military exercises, we must always look for opportunities like this to share our bonds of friendship,” said Indian Navy Capt. Rajan Kapoor, commanding officer of the INS Sahaydri. “Together we are stronger, and we will cherish these memories for a very long time.”

U.S. and Indian Armed Forces will continue training and transition to the sea phase of Exercise Tiger TRIUMPH to focus on humanitarian aid and disaster relief readiness which will enhance the bilateral, joint, and services readiness to better achieve mutual regional security objectives in the Indian Ocean region and beyond.

Media queries can be directed to the Exercise Tiger TRIUMPH Combined Joint Information Bureau Director, LCDR Andrew DeGarmo at andrew.r.degarmo.mil@us.navy.mil. For more information, photos, and stories about 15th MEU participation in Exercise Tiger TRIUMPH, visit www.dvidshub.net/units/15thMEUpa.