Photo Information

Lance Cpl. Hudson D. Bradley and his father, Emory Bradley, watch from USS Rushmore as pilots from Bonhomme Richard demonstrate their aircraft’s capabilities April 8. The Bradleys hail from Paris, Tenn.

Photo by Jeffrey Belovarac

Civilians board ships on unit's homeward transit

9 Apr 2010 | Cpl. Jeffrey Belovarac 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

PACIFIC OCEAN – In their 30th and final week of deployment, hundreds of service members brought 397 guests aboard three U.S. ships April 7 for a homeward transit from Hawaii to Camp Pendleton, Calif.

The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed in September 2009 to the Western Pacific and Middle East and picked up the guests in Pearl Harbor on its return voyage.

Reunited friends and family members on USS Bonhomme Richard, USS Cleveland and USS Rushmore sampled the seagoing life, saw the Navy and Marine Corps team in action, and observed workaday routines.

Pilots aboard USS Bonhomme Richard put on an aviation demonstration, displaying maneuvering and firing capabilities of helicopters and harrier jets.

"I’ve seen air shows before, but I’ve never seen them this close," said Evan J. Ackermann, father of Cpl. Kyle J. Ackermann, a cannoneer with Battery A. "It was impressive watching a harrier vertically take off. It’s something you could never see anywhere else."

Evan said his visit gave him a better understanding of how his son’s life had been on USS Rushmore, from sleeping in cramped quarters to walking about a constantly rocking ship.

Cpl. Ackermann, a Mt. Vernon, Wash., native, showed his father the howitzer he trained with in the Middle East.

"I heard about this equipment before, but I never saw it up close," said Evan. "There’s nothing like getting a personal tour from your son. It’s the only way to do it, especially since he knows all the inside information."

Having a guest prompted Cpl. Ackermann to explore never-seen parts of the ship. "I’ve been on this ship seven months and am (still) learning things," said Cpl. Ackermann.

The unit is scheduled to return April 13.


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Colonel Thomas M. Siverts
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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
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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
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11th Marine Expeditionary Unit