PACIFIC OCEAN --
Company G Marines departed USS Rushmore in a mechanized raid on San Clemente Island July 23, their second 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, hit the shore and drove to the island objective.
“You can tell things are being coordinated better between us and the track guys,” said Lance Cpl. Caleb D. Eggert, 22, from Tupelo, Miss. “The whole process of getting to shore is getting faster each time.”
Rounding out the Marine air-ground task force, AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters provided close-air support over the raid site.
“For being a man on the ground, there’s no better feeling than knowing I have helicopters and light-armored vehicles and who knows what else to back me up if I need it,” said Sgt. Michael M. Elder, 24, from Edmond, Okla.
Most of the Marines were on unfamiliar turf on the island, unlike Camp Pendleton’s artificial urban environments “where everyone knows exactly how everything’s laid out,” said Lance Cpl. Raymond H. Currey, 21, from Parkersburg W.Va. “It’s not like you’re going to go to a village in Afghanistan and know where all the alleyways lead to. Going somewhere new makes it all a lot more realistic.”
The Marines rushed from the vehicles into scores of cactus, which covered much of the raid site and required extra caution.
“The terrain really got in the way on this one. The cactus distracted us at times,” said Currey. “I’d get more focused on thinking ‘Oh, my leg hurts. There’s a cactus sticking out of it.’”