Monday, January 19, 2009

A week at sea

One week has already come and gone. As our Marines and sailors begin to settle in to the ship-life routine, we couldn’t be more excited about beginning our seven month journey at sea.

And at sea we are… over the past several days, USS Boxer and company have been beating through some treacherous weather. Ocean swells have been at times between 12-14 feet high, forcing those with lighter stomachs down and out of the fight.

Though weather has been a constant battle, we have been successful in conducting sustainment training for several of the units. Charlie Co., 1/1, executed a helicopter insert on the Big Island of Hawaii, followed by platoon live fire attacks on the 16th and 17th and a 10k hike on the 18th. Highlights from training earlier in the week include the Force Reconnaissance platoon’s open water training, scout snipers’ stalking, tracking and immediate action drills, and the 81mm mortorman’s multiple live fire shoots.

Though HMM-163 (Rein.) experienced the most issues when the weather went south, they were able to complete their deck landing re-qualifications and shoot a few rounds of live fire close air support with the Cobras and Hueys.

So what do we do when we’re not training or fighting? We’re preparing. On any given day Marines and sailors are hitting the gym, participating in Brazilian Jiu Jitzu, boxing, or martial arts classes, or taking a break and singing karaoke with the Fun Boss on the mess decks. Needless to say, they find ways to keep themselves occupied.

What’s next for the 13th MEU? Sorry, can’t say. What we can say is that everyone is looking forward to it, wherever and whatever “it” may be. Until next time…

Yankees begin first operational journey

Story by Sgt. Wayne Edmiston
Photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew O. Holly

USS BOXER, At Sea (Jan. 15, 2009) – The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit continues to lead the way for the Marine Corps. It was the first MEU to deploy with the Landing Craft Air Cushion vehicle, the first to deploy with a Marine Special Operations Command Company and now, this year, the first to deploy with the UH-1Y Huey helicopter, a revamped version of the Vietnam-era war machine, the UH-1N.

The new Huey is fully modernized with new parts, avionics and a four-bladed rotor making it a faster, more powerful and better asset on the battlefield.

“The Yankee brings back the Huey we had back in Vietnam. It can load fuel, troops, ammo and carry them to the zone while remaining on station,” said Capt. Jamie M. Glines, a UH-1Y pilot with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 (Reinforced), known as the “Evil Eyes.”
Prior to the addition of the Yankee, its predecessor, the UH-1N, was hindered in its ability to perform in combat.

“The November was underpowered and a lot of times we had to sacrifice fuel, troops or ammo in order to complete the mission,” Glines explained.

From a mechanical standpoint, the new helicopter’s parts are state-of-the-art and make it easier to conduct maintenance and keep the “Yankees” flying.

Staff Sgt. Zachary R. Marks, a UH-1Y mechanic with HMM-163 (Rein.), said the new helicopter’s improved technology increase the durability and overall life of the aircraft.
Another improvement is the sharing of common parts with other attack helicopters.

With the upcoming testing and release of the new AH-1Z Cobra attack helicopter, which is designed to use some of the same parts as the Yankee, it will be easier, logistically and mechanically, for future air combat Marines. The underlying question, however, is how it’s going to benefit the operational force.

“This aircraft is providing more time on station, provides more capabilities to the Marines on the ground. The parts commonality between this aircraft and the up-and-coming AH-1Z will improve the up status of aircraft, which means there are more assets,” Marks explained. “It’s hands down more power and more fight to bring into battle.”

“We can go in and do a [casualty evacuation] if we need to and not have to worry about power anymore. We can get in and get out quick to recover a small team such as a [reconnaissance] team,” said Sgt. Vincent P. Clarkston, a crew chief on the UH-1Y.

Overall, many of the Marines with HMM-163 (Rein.) are anxious to bring the utility helicopter into real world operations—the true test of its enhanced capabilities.

Friday, January 16, 2009


The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit departed Naval Station San Diego Friday, January 9, 2009, for a six-month deployment as the nation’s ready-reserve force within the Pacific and Central Commands.

Comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines and Sailors stationed at Camp Pendleton and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., the MEU is prepared to support a variety of operations in the western pacific; from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to decisive combat operations.

The MEU serves as the landing force for Expeditionary Strike Group 5, and completed its final certification exercise, Dec. 12. Over the past several months, the Marines and Sailors completed a series of exercises, including Training in An Urban Environment, MEU Exercise (MEUEX) and Expeditionary Strike Group Integration.

Battalion Landing Team 1/1, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron – 163 (Rein.), and Combat Logistics Battalion – 13 serve as the ground combat element, aviation combat element, and logistics combat element, respectively. They joined the command element last May to start a rigorous training cycle in preparation for the deployment.

The MEU is embarked on USS Boxer (LHD 4), USS Comstock (LSD 45), and USS New Orleans (LPD 18).