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Kanchana, from Nepal, Saima, from Pakistan, and Namrata, from India--all spouses of foreign officers attending Marine Corps University--pose for a selfie at the Civilian Military Council evening social for the fourth quarter on Dec. 10 in Woodbridge, Va.

Photo by Adele Uphaus-Conner

Holiday cheer needs no translation at Civilian-Military social event

21 Dec 2015 | Adele Uphaus-Conner Marine Corps Base Quantico

Santa’s annual Christmas Eve journey takes him all around the world, but on Dec. 10 he was able to visit with children from at least 20 foreign countries in the span of a half hour.

One hundred fourteen international officers currently attending schools within Marine Corps University (MCU) were guests together with their families at the Civilian-Military Council evening social for the fourth quarter. The social was hosted by Prince William County and held at the A.J. Ferlazzo building in Woodbridge, Virginia.

“We’re so lucky that our turn to host this evening falls during the holidays,” said Maureen Caddigan, Potomac district representative to the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.

The Civilian-Military Council is composed of Marine Corps Base Quantico officials and civic leaders from the towns and counties surrounding the base. Col. Allen Broughton, chief of staff for Marine Corps National Capital Region/Marine Corps Base Quantico, represented base leadership and Col. Scott Erdelatz, chief of staff for Marine Corps University, represented MCU leadership.

“It means a lot to us to share our Christmas traditions with international families,” Broughton said. He also thanked the communities encircling Quantico for supporting military families, both national and international.

Pastor Gary Caruthers of Montclair Tabernacle Church gave the invocation, inviting attending families to “pray in the way that is most comfortable to you” for the military around the world.

Erdelatz said MCU has been inviting international officers to study at Quantico for 25 years. Admission to each of the four year-long programs — Marine Corps War College for lieutenant colonels, School of Advanced Warfighting or Command and Staff College for majors and Expeditionary Warfare School for captains — is selective.

Each of the international students then introduced himself to the assembled guests. One said he and his wife were enjoying the shopping opportunity of living five minutes from Potomac Mills.

Most of the officers wished everyone “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year,” in English and often in their own languages as well.

But, the excitement of children from all over the world when Santa arrived didn’t need any translation.

— Writer:

Marine Corps Base Quantico