Day at the Cape

Pfc. David Diaz of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point gets a close-up view of Cape Lookout Lighthouse on Friday during the annual Military Fun Day sponsored by the County Chamber of Commerce, complete with ferry travel, lunch and a tour of the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center on Harkers Island. (Dylan Ray photo)

HARKERS ISLAND — About 150 active duty military personnel, some with spouses, gathered early Friday morning at the Cape Lookout National Seashore boat ramps where they boarded boats for a trip to the lighthouse. 

The County Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee sponsors the event called Military Fun Day.

Following a welcome ceremony led by David Heath, who chairs the Military Affairs Committee, guests were advised of the day’s activities and escorted to their boats.

For Pfc. David Diaz, who is stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, the ferry ride over to Cape Lookout was his first.

The day dawned sunny with blue skies and the water was calm. Riders chatted, laughed and the cameras clicked.

“This is a sight to see,” Pvt 1st Class Diaz said with a big smile as the boat approached shore near the lighthouse. 

The 21-year-old, a supply personnel Marine, is also very near getting his degree in digital forensics. 

“Being able to take some time away from work and studying and come out here is so very worthwhile,” he said. “It’s really beautiful. We really appreciate what is being done for us.”

As the boatloads of personnel made their way on shore at Cape Lookout, saturated in mosquito spray, they made their way to the lighthouse. It had been opened for the day so they could climb to the top. 

For 1st Sgt. Chris Winston of Cherry Point, and his wife of three years, Nicole, making the climb was a real treat.

“This is our first trip here together,” said Sgt. Winston. 

His wife had made the trip the previous year and looked forward to joining him for this trip. 

“This really helps Marines,” she said. “It’s so conducive to supporting our lifestyle and us. It gives us something different, away from the military for a few hours, something normal. We would love to do this again.” 

Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Chris Royal couldn’t have agreed more. In the area only a week, the trip was a chance for him to relax, settle in and look around his new home.

“My family and I have been in Michigan four years,” he said. “It’s cold up there. This is really nice, a beautiful day, even with the mosquitoes.”

He said part of his job while stationed here at Station Fort Macon would be working with local resources in combined water rescue training.

He said his family hadn’t joined him yet, so having a day of fun with others meant a lot.

“But, for today, I am really enjoying the friendly people, the sunshine and the beautiful coastline,” he added.

Following their trip to the lighthouse, the guests returned to the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center where they were treated to a lunch of grilled pork chops, viewing Core Sound crafts, a decoy carving demonstration and much more.

Contact Helen Outland at 252-726-7081, ext. 211; email helen@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter@helenccnt.

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