Japan / Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni / News Stories

Marines experience southern hospitality

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan  — Service members and their families experienced a taste of southern hospitality during Operation Mudbug here April 2.For the Marines of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12, $10,000 and 1,500 pounds of crawfish were enough to bring a bit of home to the Far East.Paul Gruhn and Sean O’Boyle managed to raise more than $10,000 through various fundraisers and donations to finance the event by going to different sports games, selling T-shirts and collaborating with different companies.The idea to host a crawfish broil was devised by Lance Cpl. Elliot Gruhn, refrigeration technician with MALS-12, his father Paul Gruhn and O’Boyle, owner of Emerald Metals Co. and former member of the 82nd Airborne Division based in Fort Bragg, N.C.

“Like most good ideas, this one started in a bar,” said O’Boyle. “A couple of months ago, we were trying to think of a way we could say thanks to all the things the Marines do for us.”

The biggest challenge of coordinating the event was trying to figure out how to get 1,500 pounds of crawfish all the way to Japan.

“Initially, they wanted to fly in live crawfish and all this other stuff, so it was really difficult to do,” said 1st Lt. Oscar A. Martinez, MALS-12 ground support equipment division officer here.

Martinez worked with Jeffery Flemming, MALS-12 family readiness officer, to coordinate a plan of action with MCCS to provide the main entree.

“In the end we couldn’t get that crawfish flown here for legal reasons, so Marine Corps Community Services said they would put everything together,” said Martinez.

After months of planning and coordination with MCCS and MALS-12, the idea hatched into a planned event to include a flag football game between service members, free food and a crawfish eating contest.

“MCCS did a brilliant job with all the tents and providing all the resources needed to put this together,” said O’Boyle.

Noncommissioned officers played flag football against staff noncommissioned officers and won 20-0.

During the day, free food and drinks were made readily available to all attendees until the crawfish were ready to be served.

Once prepared, dozens of pounds of crawfish were poured into long trays for an all-you-can-eat buffet of mudbugs.

Eventually, the event launched into a full-fledged eating contest between contestants who dared to fill their stomachs with as many mudbugs as they could devour.

After 10 minutes of rabid twisting, chewing and swallowing, Lance Cpl. William Phillips, ground support equipment structure mechanic with MALS-12, and Elliott Gruhn tied after each consumed 233 crawfish.

The contestants were given an additional five minutes to settle the score. In the end, Elliot Gruhn demolished an additional 83 mudbugs and defeated Phillips.

“I’m from Texas, and we eat crawfish all the time,” said Elliot Gruhn. “I love it.”

O’Boyle, Paul and Elliot Gruhn each received a challenge coin and plaque from Maj. Gen. Raymond C. Fox, commanding general of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.

“It’s very heart warming to see that Americans will think about the Marines all the way in Japan,” said Fox. “That’s the great thing about the Marine Corps. We take all these Marines from the West Coast, East Coast, and Midwest and integrate them together. They get to experience different foods and this is one of those opportunities.”

Paul Gruhn and O’Boyle plan to do more fundraising to hold similar events in the future for service members of all branches to show their appreciation of the protection service members provide for the U.S. and other host nations.


Originally published: Marines.mil

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