Thursday, April 30, 2009
The waters were calm as Marines with Light Armored Reconnaissance Platoon approached their vehicles chained to the deck of a Landing Craft Air Cushion vehicle (LCAC) in the lower section of USS Boxer (LHD 4). Vehicle hatches and hoods are muscled opened—the maintenance begins.
From the deserts of Iraq to the vast Indian Ocean, Marines with LAR, which is an attachment of Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/1, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, are prepared for whatever m
ay come their way.
“My platoon was selected from amongst the battalion when we returned from Iraq in our last deployment,” said Gunnery Sgt. Thomas R. Johnson, platoon sergeant. “We have been a platoon for about 16 months now.”
Johnson, from Elbert, Col., said he only has four Marines who haven’t deployed before and as a whole, his M
arines are as skilled and professional as they come.
“We have been together for a while now and we have grown to know each other very well,” said Cpl. Jorge Rangel, gunner with LAR. “We know each other’s capabilities.”
This year the unit is with the 13th MEU, which is currently supporting counter-piracy operations off the coast of Africa. With this unique deployment comes unique care for their equipment.
“The biggest challenge and the difference for us being aboard ship rather than being on a land-based deployment, is the effect of the salt water on our vehicles,” said Johnson. “The metal is constantly rusting and corroding away, here we have to spend a lot more time conducting preventative maintenance on our vehicles.”
This maintenance is important for operations that could happen at a moment’s notice. Without proper working equipment, the platoon would be ineffective.
“If our vehicles are down then we are not going anywhere,” said Rangel, from San Jose, Calif.
Rangel said life on ship is very different from being on land, but it’s nothing they can’t overcome.
“On the squad level we do tactical decision games,” said Johnson. “Selected individuals do supporting arms training as well.”
The team leaders or vehicle commanders conduct rotary and fixed wing close air support training, as well as artillery and mortarmen training. The crewmen are involved in gunnery training that applies to their job field.
“It’s all stuff that we have done before, we are just sharpening our skills,” said Johnson.
LAR platoon is the main effort for surface TRAP operations (tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel), as well as the motorized raid element.
“A raid is, in essence, a pre-planned attack and a pre-planned withdrawal. We serve as the motorized, light raid element,” continued Johnson.
“We go in and atta
ck what we are raiding, exploit it for information, then leave quickly.”
Traditional LAR tasks would be route area zone reconnaissance, support attacks and assaults.
“We could do a lot because of our skilled scouts and fire-power from our light armored vehicles,” said Johnson. “We have excellent communications and optics; we could call for air support, artillery or mortars, and could operate on our own for extended periods of time as long as we have the fuel.”
Johnson said logistically they are easy to support; the MEU can use them for just about anything.
“The back-bone of the MEU is the infantrymen, the line companies,” concluded Johnson. “Everything in the MEU is built on supporting ‘the grunt on the ground.’ We are part of that. We support his attack.”
Lance Cpl. Jorge A. Flores, warehouse clerk with CLB 13, organizes a storage container in the lower parts of USS Boxer (LHD 4), April 20. Flores’ mission, along with other Marines within CLB-13 supply, is to provide support to the entire 13th MEU with various materials including military clothing and gear, meals ready-to-eat (MREs), petroleum, oils and lubricants, and repair parts.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Name: Lance Cpl. Zachary W. Varga
Unit: CLB-13, "Lucky 13"
Home Town: Riverside, Calif.
Job Title: Supply Clerk
Why did you join the Marine Corps? "I wanted to join the Marine Corps after I noticed a commercial on TV. I wanted to be in the avionics field, I thought it would be cool to work on planes and helicopters."
What do you do in the Marine Corps? "My job is receiving and issuing items to sections of CLB-13. Every day is different because everyone has different needs.”
What are some of your hobbies when you are not at work? "I'm interested in rock climbing, I wanted to start some sort of rock climbing event here on ship...maybe some sort of slack lining."
The overall mission for CLB-13 supply is to provide support to the entire 13th MEU with various materials including military clothing, gear, meals ready-to-eat (MREs), petroleum, oils and lubricants, and repair parts.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Lance Cpl. Jack B. Stone from Boynton Beach, Fla., and airframes mechanic with HMM 163, prepares a drill in order to remove panels off the wing of an AV-8B Harrier in the hanger bay of USS Boxer.
Airframe mechanics from HMM 163 work on an AV-8B Harrier in USS Boxer’s hanger bay.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
(As seen on CNN)
INDIAN OCEAN (April 13, 2009) The guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) tows the lifeboat from the Maersk Alabama to the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), in background, to be processed for evidence after the successful rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips. Phillips was held captive by suspected Somali pirates in the lifeboat in the Indian Ocean for five days after a failed hijacking attempt off the Somali coast.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
This video was, in fact, shot by 13th MEU’s very own Cpl. Oscar G. Garcia, Combat Camera Videographer. Initial reports from the media incorrectly tagged the video as U.S. Navy footage.
B-roll of Maersk-Alabama Capt. Richard Phillips, being welcomed aboard USS Boxer (LHD 4), April 12, after being rescued by U.S Naval Forces off the coast of Somalia. Philips was held hostage for four days by pirates. Produced by Cpl. Oscar G. Garcia.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
Elements of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), began conducting Exercise Eastern Maverick 2009, alongside Qatari military forces on March 28, a bilateral training exercise designed to build and improve cooperation between both military forces.
During the exercise, U.S. Marines and Sailors will work alongside the Qatari military for approximately two weeks, conducting a number of training exercises, to include small-unit vehicle training and live-fire exercises, as well as pilot training with the Qatari Air Force.
Lt. Col. Tye R. Wallace, commanding officer of Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/1 assigned to the 13th MEU, said he looks forward to the operating with the Qatari military during the exercise.
“Exercises like this one provide important opportunities for us to work more closely together with our friends in the region, thereby helping to enhance understanding, security and stability throughout the Middle East,” he said. “Understanding and communication are vital to a strong friendship, and these exercises are an excellent opportunity for us to further develop both of these with our Qatari friends.”
The first day of the exercise consisted of several classes covering sniper training, grenade handling and the use of a Global Positioning System. Each subsequent day will build upon the skills learned from earlier days.
“They picked it up quickly,” said 1st Lt. Jesus S. Mendez, platoon commander with Combined Anti Armor Team 2, Weapons Company, BLT 1/1. “It was a good opportunity to work with the Qataris to see how our friends operate.”
The exercise also allows opportunities for athletic interaction and competition between the two nations. U.S. Marines and Sailors participated in a friendly game of volleyball on the first night of the exercise with several Qataris.
“We should do this every time during exercises – it builds unity and friendship,” said Staff Sgt. Steve D. Oldham, 3rd platoon sergeant for Company B, BLT 1/1. “This helps strengthen relationships with our host nation, which is important.”
“I think it was a great game,” said Pfc. Abdul Rahman, a rocketman in the Qatari Amiri Land Forces. “This created a good team environment for the upcoming training between us and the Marines.”
The 13th MEU is embarked aboard Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group (BOXESG) ships deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to conduct Maritime Security Operations.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Marines and Sailors assigned to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (BOXARG) spent the day playing with children from the Alia School for Early Intervention in Bahrain March, 24.
Approximately 15 Marines and Sailors from USS New Orleans (LPD 18) spent time socializing with special needs children, gardening and playing with children during gym class.
“I was really impressed with the program’s success in integrating the children with special needs into the primary education gym classes,” said Staff Sgt. John J. Ankney. “The teachers have an amazing talent connecting with the children.”
The center was set up in 2004 by the Bahrain Society for Children with Behavior and Communication Disorders and helps students with communication, social, emotional and physical development problems.
“I wanted to volunteer so I could give back,” said Ankney, a Mission Creek, Idaho native, explaining his reasons for volunteering. “More importantly, I wanted to make a difference.”
The Marines and Sailors also helped plant flowers with the children.
“It was nice to have the opportunity to sit down and garden with the kids,” said Hospital Corpsmen 3rd Class Eli Y. Hernandez, assigned to the 13th MEU’s Battalion Landing Team. “It gave us a chance to connect in a one-on-one environment. Spending time with these children was the bright point of my day!"