Monday, February 8, 2010

13th MEU turns 25

Story and photo by Sgt. Jimmy Green
Monday, Feb. 1, marked the 25th anniversary of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit's inception.
Exactly 25 years ago here, the formerly named 13th Marine Amphibious Unit was activated.
Approximately three years later, the name changed to its current title.
From 1990 to 1995, the 13th MEU participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Southwest Asia, and Operation United Shield in Somalia.
From 1996 to 2007, the MEU participated in Operation Southern Watch, Southwest Asia; Humanitarian Assistance Operations in East Timor; Operation Determined Response, Yemen; Maritime Interception Operations, Northern Arabian Gulf; and Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
The 13th MEU's few returning veterans this year include Lt. Col. Ronald A. Stephens, the unit's future operations officer.
"I did two floats from 1993 to 1995," Stephens recalls. "I first came to the MEU as a replacement for a lieutenant who was medically evacuated."
During his time with the 13th MEU, Stephens served as the Engineer Detachment officer in charge. He participated in Operation United Shield, Operation United Nations in Somalia and Operation Continued Hope.
After Stephen's first float, he extended his contract to deploy a second time, which departed U.S. soil only six months after his first deployment with the MEU ended.
Ironically enough, Stephens deployed on the USS Comstock, a ship that was a part of the 13th MEU's most recent deployment.
Even with the changes in the MEU from then to now, Stephens is eager to get out again for a third time with the "Fighting Thirteenth."
"It seems like we had a lot more liberty back then, even when we were operationally committed," said Stephens. "But I will say that today's MEU is a lot more capable."
Through the various changes over the last 25 years, the 13th MEU still remains 'most ready when the nation is least ready' and is currently preparing for their 2011 deployment.
Stephens, along with the rest of the 13th MEU team, is optimistic and excited to see what the next float will bring to the table.

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