Photo Information

Tank crewmen with Battalion Landing Team 2/4, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, get the chance Nov. 21 to operate their vehicle for the first time since deploying to the Western Pacific and Middle East in September. While embarked on ship, the tanks are positioned inches from each other making movement and maintenance difficult.

Photo by Cpl. Jeffrey Belovarac

MEU lands on desert island

24 Nov 2009 | Cpl. Jeffrey Belovarac 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Members of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit practiced ship-to-shore landings here Nov. 20–24.

The Marines and sailors traveled from the amphibious ships Cleveland and Rushmore to the uninhabited island by helicopters and air cushioned landing crafts. Once ashore, the service members set out in wheeled and tracked vehicles to establish a forward operating base.

“We got good training for landing both surface and air craft,” said Navy LT. William R. Parker, a naval gunfire liaison officer. “We can lose our skill set if we don’t keep practicing. It becomes like muscle memory the more we do this.”

Going ashore gave the 11th MEU an opportunity to accomplish some good training, maintenance, and tactical mission rehearsals, said Parker.

Marines with Tanks Platoon, Company G, Battalion Landing Team 2/4, drove their tanks for the first time since deploying over two months ago. The barren desert island allowed the Marines to maneuver their tanks freely.

Communications Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 11, BLT 2/4, and the 11th MEU’s Command Element trained together. The Marines learned to create better communication networks for use in future exercises.

The bulk of the training focused on Marines with supporting elements and their ability to establish independent forward operating bases.

However, infantrymen were still required for the task. Two infantry platoons, with Weapons Company and Co. G, landed on the island and provided the necessary security by patrolling and manning vehicle control points.

Marines were glad to leave the ship life for a couple days, step foot on land and breathe in the open air, said Lance Cpl. Alexander B. Hitchings, a mortarman from Phoenix.


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