From ship to shore, tanks, tracks raid mock cityscape

3 Jul 2009 | Cpl. Jeffrey J. Belovarac 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Company G Marines conducted a mechanized raid from USS Rushmore July 3, the first ship-to-shore raid as the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit works up to deployment.

The company – one of four that make up Battalion Landing Team 2/4, the MEU’s ground combat element – departed the ship in tracked amphibious vehicles and hit the shore on the way to their objective at Camp Pendleton.

“It was the first time splashing out of a ship for most of these guys,” said Cpl. Garrett L. Miller, 23, from Abilene, Texas. “It’s a real trip when the tracks dip out.”

Two M1A1 tanks also partook in the raid, traveling to shore in air-cushioned landing craft.

Company G has trained with tanks and amphibious vehicles before; however, this was the first time they combined these mechanized assets to carry out a raid mission, said Sgt. Andrew Metelski, 24, from Phoenix.

For Marines, riding in tracked amphibious vehicles is an adventure accompanied with minor grievances.

“When you’re in there, everyone is all crunched up and can barely move. You’ll sit the same way for hours and your legs start to fall asleep,” said Pfc. Eduardo Fuentes, 22, from Phoenix.

After sitting in the same position for seven hours, the doors lowered and the Marines were instantly engaged in a fire fight.

“When we dismounted, everything got fast. You could feel the adrenaline,” said Fuentes. “I started off running; my heart was beating fast; people were yelling. Then I got back into it and thought, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve got to get some.’”

Marines rushed out and raided one of Pendleton’s urban training grounds. Squads moved nonstop, bounding from building to building while tanks rolled down the town’s streets. As Marines entered each building, they came across enemy personnel, improvised explosive devises or sometimes nothing at all.

Marines attributed their smooth and continuous movement to enhanced communication skills, which are essential in an environment of constant movement and gunfire.

“I’m a machine gunner, so people are always yelling at me to go here and go there,” said Fuentes. “It can be hard, but we all have to flow together.”

The Marines of Company G and the 11th MEU have two more periods at sea following this exercise. They deploy this fall.

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