Photo Information

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Marines and sailors with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit's command element march along a dirt road during a hike here Aug 24. The purpose of the hike was to bring the unit together and build camaraderie. It also was used to help condition Marines for more strenuous hikes in the future said Maj. Michael Estes, the 11th MEU executive officer.

Photo by Pfc. Demetrius Morgan

Marines, sailors hone hiking skills

24 Aug 2012 | Pfc. Demetrius Morgan 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Marines and sailors with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s command element participated in a seven-mile hike here, Aug. 24.

Members of the MEU’s command element staged their packs early that morning in preparation for the unit’s first hike together since returning June 28 from a seven-month deployment.

The training event’s purpose was to bring the members of the command element together and build camaraderie. It is also used to condition Marines and sailors for longer and more strenuous hikes in the future, said Maj. Michael Estes, 11th MEU executive officer.

“The intent of this evolution is twofold,” said Estes. “The conditioning aspect of the hike ensures that our Marines maintain a certain fitness level while here at the MEU. The second intention is to practice and perfect our ability to move the MEU command element.”

Each Marine was required to carry an issued small-arms weapon and pack, filled with a basic, reduced load of issued gear that weighed approximately 35 pounds.

With the weight of the loaded packs, Marines and sailors stepped out to begin their hike.

“I know people who aren’t that good at hikes, so doing this is good,” said Cpl. Jason Almanza, a 22-year-old, embarkation and logistics specialist and Phoenix native. “The more we do these hikes the better we all will get.”

Marines who have trained in different areas have had different experiences with hiking. Cpl. Jordan Franco, a data network specialist with the 11th MEU, has his own methods when dealing with a hike.

“My adjustment to hiking here was natural because I went to Afghanistan almost immediately after graduating my MOS (Military Occupational School) school,” said Franco. “Before a hike I hydrate three to five days in advance and eat fruit the day of the hike because it’s light enough to not weigh me down but it gives me enough nutrients so that I’m not hungry on the hike.”

“During hikes, I sing cadences or my favorite song in my head. It’s easier to go on hikes when you’re not thinking about hiking”, added Franco.

At the halfway point of the hike, a proud moment in one Marine’s career was publicly displayed among the other Marines and sailors in attendance. Gunnery Sgt. Scott W. Dunn, the outgoing public affairs chief with the 11th MEU’s command element, re-enlisted for the fourth time.

“I didn’t really know what to say so I recited the Staff Noncommissioned Creed,” said Dunn. “I felt that the staff NCOs that I have worked with have carried me and taught me a lot so as a tribute to them I recited the Staff NCO creed.”

Upon completion of the hike, the Marines and sailors of the MEU returned to their duties. With more hikes already scheduled, Marines can expect the future hikes to be progressively more challenging.



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.

Read Biography

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.

Read Biography

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.

Read Biography