Roots & Wings Online

Ladera Ranch Residents Host 1ST LAR Marines for Memorial Day BBQ

This year a neighborhood Memorial Day BBQ for the residents living in the Sterling II neighborhood in Ladera Ranch will be even more memorable. Ladera neighborhood extended an invitation to the Marines from the 1ST LAR Battalion and their families.

This year a neighborhood Memorial Day BBQ for the residents living in the Sterling II neighborhood in Ladera Ranch will be even more memorable. This year the neighborhood extended an invitation to the Marines from the 1ST LAR Battalion and their families. 

Approximately twenty-five Marine family members attended the event. Ladera Ranch Community Services (LARCS) board member, Greg Sink was instrumental in reaching out to the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (1st LAR), also known as ‘The Highlanders’, based in Camp Pendleton. Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Mike Nakonieczny, USMC, Commanding Officer and other Battalion officials attended the event along with their families. Ladera residents enjoyed spending time with the Marines and their families. 

It was a perfect day with weather in the 70s, a slight breeze, large games (Connect Four, Jenga), dads throwing the football with their children, kids playing with puppies, delicious BBQ food prepared by residents, and of course, apple pie. Sink and his neighbors started the preparation for the day at 4:00 a.m. A banner was created which included a warm welcome and a heartfelt message that read, "Thank you for your service and dedication” for the Marine families and included the 1ST LAR logo. 
LARCS Communications Manager, David Robertson caught up with Greg Sink to learn more.

LARCS:  How long has your Memorial Day weekend BBQ taken place?
Sink: Our neighborhood (Sterling II) used to hold an annual 4th of July BBQ but we haven’t for several years. This is the first Memorial Day event we’ve ever planned.

LARCS:  Who organized the Memorial Day BBQ event?
Sink: I organized the event but it couldn’t be done without the help of our lead BBQ chef Mark Nichols and with assistance from Kjersten Damron, Jason Simard and other neighbors who pitched in with cooking, serving and clean up.

LARCS: What was the experience like for your neighbors, to have the Marines from 1ST LAR participate this year?
Sink:  The event had a great deal of neighbor support from the inception In fact, several people had previous plans for the weekend and were disappointed that they couldn’t join us due to other plans. Overall, everyone enjoyed the idea of inviting our local Marines to join us for a neighborhood block party. 

We know most of the troops are from out of the area and we wanted to invite them to a family style BBQ as an extension of our families. It’s our hope that other neighborhoods in Ladera Ranch will host a small group of Marines in years to come. We would love for this to be something that grows in scale and that the 1ST LAR can look forward to each year.

LARCS: How did Sterling Glen II get involved with 1ST LAR?
Sink: Sterling Glen II got involved because they have a bit of an instigator on the street (Sink serves as a LARMAC Neighborhood Representative and a LARCS board member). I thought it was important for us to do something on a personal level to engage with those who serve our country. Their dedication and sacrifices are often taken for granted and this was just a small way for us to thank them for what they do.
Sterling resident Mark Nichols, Major Balke and Lt Col Nakonieczy (1st LAR) and Sterling Glen resident and Vice President of Ladera Ranch Community Services (LARCS) together to celebrate the Memorial Day Neighborhood Block Party to say thank you for the service and dedication of all active members of the US Marines and military including veterans and those that paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.
Future Ladera Ranch community event will include a Car Wash fundraiser, attendance at the 4th of July Celebration and the summer concert series. Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Mike Nakonieczny and the Marines who attended the Memorial Day BBQ event conveyed their appreciation to the residents of Ladera Ranch who have generously welcomed and supported their families. Recently 1ST LAR Marines gave a presentation to Ladera’s Teen Leadership Council (TLC) on leadership and held a Baby Shower for 35 expecting families where they were presented with donated baby items donated by Ladera families during the Bundles of Joy drive organized by Ladera Ranch Community Services (LARCS). Ladera residents may visit for updates and event information. 
1ST LAR Families enjoying the Memorial Day weekend BBQ

Members of 1ST LAR took the time to sign the famous "Smoke Shack”.