Thursday, June 10, 2010

By Cpl. Christopher O'Quin

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Marines and sailors from Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-13, I Marine Expeditionary Force held loved ones and friends for the first time in more than a month, during their return from Exercise Native Fury 2010 in the Middle East, May 30.

The exercise brought together more than 200 Marines and sailors to train with military forces in the region and build interoperability.

"It made me more proficient since we used different radios than we are used to," said Cpl. Carlos Velazquez, a multichannel radio operator with Special Purpose MAGTF-13. "Right now I'm glad to be home and I'm just gonna enjoy the weekend."

Shortly after returning from deployment, Special Purpose MAGTF-13 became re-designated as the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit command element and Combat Logistics Battalion 13.

"We were tasked to go to Exercise Native Fury, which is in United States Central Command, to demonstrate and practice maritime prepositioning of ships," said Col. David W. Coffman, the commanding officer of 13th MEU. "It enables us to get the training camp repetition in to make sure we are all prepared to start our full work-ups later this summer. We used this exercise to ensure access to ports and airfields and to work with our partners in the region. We had great success moving Marines and materials from ship to shore. It was a great opportunity to develop relationships with our partners."

"They did fabulously well and we look forward to getting all the Marines and materials back home," finished Coffman.

Marines and sailors from the 13th MEU command element and CLB-13 will spend the next month taking leave and preparing for the months ahead as they train and complete the requirements to make them a force in readiness.

13th MEU Families, Friends Bond During Family Day

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Under a bright sun, service members and their families squared off against each other, shooting gobs of green paint from makeshift cover as their younger children played in inflatable playhouses.
After playing several team matches, the intelligence section pummeled operations, administration, logistics and communications in a paintball "capture the flag" style tournament.
"It was freaking awesome," said Cpl. Chris Papson, an intelligence systems administrator with the 13th MEU. "We had a good team. I've been in dozens of games, so I brought my technique, which is shooting as many rounds down range as possible while moving fast. The funniest part was getting shot up by the little kids."
For some of the kids, this day marked the first time they shot with a paintball gun, which is often called a paintball marker by enthusiasts.
Members of Calvary Chapel, San Juan Capistrano, decorated children's faces at an arts and crafts booth. They also catered the event complete with hotdogs, hamburgers and barbecued chicken.
"We have a heart for service members, and we're glad to be out here today," said Jon Rogers, one of the coordinators of the event. "We're here to support those who support us keeping the home front secure."
In addition to volunteer work from Calvary Chapel, many of the Marines helped set up and supervise the various events.
"I've worked with kids at horse ranches and volunteer events and when they're happy I'm happy," said Pfc. Blake Johnson, a radio operator with the communications section of the 13th MEU. "Seeing them happy makes it all worth it."
A watermelon eating competition concluded the day's events when Pfc. Omar Brown, a radio operator from the communications section, cleaned out a watermelon half and defeated the Marines from each section. Representatives from the Anaheim Marine Adoption Committee provided gift cards for the winners in the competitions.
"This family day has been very successful with great turnout," said Bryan Vaughn, the family readiness officer for the 13th MEU. "We've had great support from the Marines and their wives."
The 13th MEU plans to hold another family day in August, as they begin the "meat and potatoes" of their work-ups for deployment. Just as this family day brought the MEU together, future family days will help strengthen not just the bond between Marines but their loved ones as well.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sgt. Maj. Hines retires after 30 years of honorable service

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (Apr. 9, 2010)—After more than 30 years in the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. Enrique X. Hines, former sergeant major of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, bid farewell to the Corps aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., during his retirement ceremony today.
Hines, who moved to the Bronx, New York from Costa Rica when he was four-years-old, said he knew he wanted to join the military when he was only 16. After talking to his uncle, a captain with the Army 82nd Airborne Division, he made his decision to joined the few and the proud. His uncle’s insight from working with Marines and Hines’ strong determination to finish all things through to the end are unswervingly accountable for the place he is at today.
In the 11th grade Hines enlisted in the Marines with a military occupational specialty of combat engineer. However, for Hines doing his job and nothing more, was not quite enough. He used his background in martial arts to learn and teach every form of hand-to-hand combat he encountered during his career.
By the time he achieved the rank of sergeant, he was sure he wanted to do at least 20 years and retire from the Marine Corps.
“Sgt. Maj. Hines is the best combination of power and love I have ever seen in a Marine,” said Col. David W. Coffman, commanding officer, 13th MEU. “He is the example of everything we want our warriors to be.”
Hines said it was the Marines he served with that made him most proud during his 30 years. He described how it means much more to get appreciation from someone who served under you than from someone senior in rank.
For Hines, it was the magnitude of people he met that made the Corps enjoyable for the 30 years he was in.
“People make the Corps,” said Hines, “we should never forget that.”
Today, the Corps continues to drive on one sergeant major short of yesterday. The contributions Hines left behind will be remembered by all those who have served with him—his service will not be forgotten.