Photo Information

Light-armored vehicle commander Gunnery Sgt. Matthew Vickers, 33, clears his vehicle’s antennae under a tunnel as 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion conducts the tactical recovery of a simulated missing pilot here July 2. The LAR detachment is part of Battalion Landing Team 2/4, the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s ground combat element. The MEU, part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group, is conducting its first pre-deployment exercise at sea with its Navy counterpart, Amphibious Squadron 7. The Navy and Marine Corps team is testing interoperability before a deployment certification exercise later this summer. Vickers hails from Decatur, Ill.

Photo by Gunnery Sgt. Scott Dunn

Navy, Marine team practices ship-to-shore rescue

2 Jul 2009 | Gunnery Sgt. Scott Dunn 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

In a pitch-black, light-tight compartment, the eye’s guesswork is thrown off by a hanging diesel smell and an earsplitting drone. Ear plugs shield the noise and turn the hearing inward to amplify one’s every breath.

The darkness and deafness are solitary. But nobody’s alone in here. The contorted gridlock of knees and elbows jutting into one another assures that.

The Marines wait, crammed to their amphibious gills, nested in their light-armored vehicles, nested aboard air-cushioned landing craft, nested aboard USS Bonhomme Richard.

They wait for the turbines, fans and whatever wondrous parts that will lift and propel their 200-ton, cargo-filled hovercraft over the horizon from the blue ocean to their seashore objective miles away:

A fake downed pilot needs rescuing before a make-believe enemy gets him first.

To accomplish this and many more missions, Marines and sailors are putting their teamwork in motion.

A detachment from 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion conducted the tactical recovery of the simulated missing pilot July 2. The LAR detachment is part of Battalion Landing Team 2/4, the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s ground combat element.

Recovering aircraft and personnel is one of several special missions the MEU must know how to plan and execute before deploying its 2,200 Marines and sailors in September aboard USS Bonhomme Richard, USS Cleveland and USS Rushmore. 

The MEU, part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group, is conducting its first pre-deployment exercise at sea with its Navy counterpart, Amphibious Squadron 7. This Navy and Marine Corps team is testing interoperability before a deployment certification exercise later this summer.

The MEU and Amphibious Squadron 7 began working together in January to plan and execute conventional amphibious operations and selected maritime operations that may be necessary when deployed to the Western Pacific and other parts of the globe.

During this at-sea period, in addition to two tactical recoveries of aircraft and personnel, the MEU has conducted amphibious raids and a humanitarian assistance operation, with several more missions in store before the exercise wraps up July 10.


Marine Corps News

Colonel Thomas M. Siverts
Commanding Officer

Colonel Tom Siverts is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1989. He achieved a commission as a Second Lieutenant through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program following his graduation from the University of Virginia in May 1999. Colonel Siverts has deployed in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. His other operational deployments include serving with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/8, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU); BLT 3/8, 22d MEU; BLT 2/8, 26th MEU, and Task Force 61/2.

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Lieutenant Col. Steven M. Sprigg
Executive Officer

LtCol Sprigg was born in Parkersburg, WV. LtCol Sprigg enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in September 2004 and recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. LtCol Sprigg was selected for the Enlisted Commissioning Program and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in March 2008. He was designated a Naval Aviator in February 2011 and reported to HMLAT-303 for training as an AH-1W pilot. LtCol Sprigg is currently serving as the Executive Officer for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Camp Pendleton, California.

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Sergeant Major Travis L. DeBarr
Sergeant Major

Sergeant Major DeBarr enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported to MCRD San Diego, CA, for recruit training in October 1994.Staff Sergeant DeBarr completed two combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2005 to April 2006 and again form March 2007 to September 2007. While serving with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, First Sergeant DeBarr completed one combat deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from October 2012 to May 2013. Sergeant Major DeBarr currently serves as the Sergeant Major for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

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11th Marine Expeditionary Unit