CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan --
After numerous training exercises throughout the Asia-Pacific region, the Marines and Sailors of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment are heading home.
The battalion which served as the ground combat element for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit from Jan 2007 to Jan 2008 was replaced by 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment Jan 19.
During their time as the MEU’s Battalion Landing Team, the Marines and Sailors of the Camp Pendleton, Calif., based unit conducted many exercises during 2007 that helped them grow and prepared them for possible deployment to the Persian Gulf.
“After training on the MEU and working with other militaries, 2/1 will be more successful whenever they do deploy to Iraq and work with the Iraqi Army,” said BLT 2/1 Sgt. Maj. Sylvester Daniels.
According to Daniels, a native of Jackson, Tenn., BLT 2/1’s deployment was extended an extra six months in March. This enabled them to conduct training and become closer as a unit.
While with the 31st MEU, BLT 2/1 trained alongside militaries from the Republic of Korea, Australia, Kingdom of Cambodia, and the Philippines.
“Korea was really cold, and Australia was miserably wet. After experiencing something like that together, Marines just tend to bond more.” Daniels explained.
For Pfc. Carlos Morales, a grenadier with BLT 2/1, deploying together as a battalion for such a long period allowed them to build and mold unit camaraderie.
“The only thing we had was each other, everything else was new and we had to learn together,” the Hemet, Calif., native said.
Additionally, for Morales, the exercises their battalion conducted while with the MEU proved beneficial because it offered diverse training in a new environment.
“Training with the foreign militaries was good because we were able to teach them our urban combat tactics, and it gave us a chance to practice jungle warfare,” Morales said.
The new BLT is scheduled to conduct similar training comparable to that of 2/1. Master Gunnery Sgt. Harry Bush, operations chief, BLT 2/4, said he looks forward to the training his Marines will conduct with the 31st MEU this spring.
“Most of the training the Marines of 2/4 have received has been for Iraq, so this will be totally different,” explained Bush, a native of Blountstown, Fla.
As the MEU’s new GCE, BLT 2/4 is scheduled to conduct a variety of training exercises including MEU-specific exercises that will prepare the Marines and Sailors for possible Non-combatant Evacuation Operations or recovery operations such as a Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel mission. The MEU is scheduled to deploy with the USS Essex Amphibious Ready Group this spring.