Thursday, September 29, 2011

‘Fighting 13th’ returns home

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – On Sept. 28th and 29th, more than 2,000 Marines and Sailors from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit launched helicopters, amphibious assault vehicles, Landing Craft Air Cushioned and Landing Craft Utility’s to deliver them for one last amphibious landing…their homecoming at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
The 13th MEU left San Diego Harbor in February ready to respond to a number of situations and demonstrate goodwill as a sea-based Marine Air-Ground Task Force comprised of Battalion Landing Team 1/1, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 (Reinforced) and Combat Logistics Battalion 13. The Marines and Sailors served aboard three ships comprising Boxer Amphibious Ready Group.) During the deployment, the MEU served aboard the USS Boxer (LHD-4), the USS Green Bay (LPD-20) and the USS Comstock (LSD-45) often operating hundreds of miles apart from each other and in different countries.
Shortly after leaving, United States Central Command needed them to provide the expeditionary and versatile capabilities that MEU’s are known the world over for. After a month of rushing through two oceans, the Fighting 13th was cruising through the Gulf of Aden as a Theater Reserve Force also providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in 5th Fleet Areas of Responsibility.
“I am so proud of the 2,300 Marines and Sailors that made up this edition of 13th MEU,” said Col. David W. Coffman, the commanding officer of the 13th MEU. “They were a great team. They made a difference in these turbulent times during their six months as a forward deployed sea-based MAGTF, and now return with honor to their family and friends back here in America. Mission complete and job well done.”
The Theater Security Cooperation events involved visiting various nations and training their militaries in the same tactics the Corps uses. During the seven months the MEU compiled 3,486 flight hours, 2,225 sorties and fired more than 843,000 rounds and conducted 128 ship-to-shore movements.
“We got to learn what tactics foreign militaries use and saw them showcase their skills while we could show them how we do business,” said Cpl. Zackary T. Meier, 2nd Fire Team leader, 2nd Squad, 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/1, 13th MEU. “We taught soldiers buddy rushes, basics and served as mentors. I feel I was able to develop as an NCO in the past seven months. We didn’t go to Afghanistan but I believe we all gained something from this and were a part of something bigger. We all came home too. That’s what matters.”
The MEU trained and operated in more than 10 countries throughout CENTCOM United States Africa Command and United States Pacific Command. Marines of all ranks and various occupations took part in more than eight TSC events from Kuwait to Australia.
“It feels great coming home,” said Meier. “It was my first time leaving the States and experiencing different cultures while enjoying some awesome liberty. It was different training alongside different militaries and seeing how they operate while working with them. I recommend every Marine go on a MEU deployment. It’s the reason the Corps exists. It’s definitely a life changing experience.”
The MEU will spend the next couple months settling back in their garrison routine, readjusting to life back in the states and preparing for future needs of the Corps.
“This is my son’s first homecoming and it’s been a long time coming,” said Hal Hubber, father of Cpl. Jay Hubber, a heavy equipment operator with engineer detachment, CLB 13, 13th MEU. “While they were gone, they couldn’t tell us where they were or what was going on, it definitely added some suspense and an unknown element to it. We’re proud of him and the Unit he’s a part of. Now we catch up and enjoy some time together as a family.”

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