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Hiking to build relationships in the land Down Under

30 Jun 2009 | 31st MEU Staff

Cairns' local officials invited more than 600 Marines and sailors from Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines (BLT 3/5), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), to conduct a conditioning hike.  

The Marines were able to successfully plan and execute a hike through the streets of Cairns without interfering with the local routine of its citizens.

Lt. Col. Christopher Dowling, commanding officer for BLT 3/5, said, “The Cairns police department and other local officials were professional and happy to support the conditioning hike.”

Capt. Sean Miller, the operations officer for BLT 3/5, said, “Without the assistance of city officials, this hike never would have been possible.”

The hike was a great way for the Marines and sailors to see the city from a different perspective and served as another method to continue working up to Talisman Saber 2009 (TS ’09), according to Dowling.

“The purpose of the hike was to help maintain a high level of conditioning needed in order to participate in Talisman Saber,” said Dowling. 

In regards to the important benefits and the physical preparations required to succeed in this year’s TS ’09, the Houston native said, “Talisman Saber is a great opportunity to expand our partnering with one of our allies.  We understand the quality of our relationships with people in and out of uniform is of paramount importance in determining mission success.  In addition, this exercise will challenge the Marines and sailors in a difficult environment which will naturally increase our level of proficiency in our core skills sets.” 

Sgt. Hugo Frausto, a motor transportation operator from Headquarters and Service Company, BLT 3/5, said, “We know that there will be a lot of hiking during (Talisman Saber), so this hike will help us prepare for our role in the exercise.”

And while the overall weight of each Marine’s pack was 70 pounds, it did nothing to affect the overall enjoyment of the event by its participants.

Lance Cpl. Clifton D. Kramer, a rifleman from Company K, BLT 3/5, said, “We usually carry more weight than this, but it was pretty much what we carry to the field.”  The Caraway, Ark. native added, “After being on the ship for the past 14 days this hike was a good way to get out, stretch our legs, and prepare for future hikes.”

Maj. Rob Warfield, logistics officer for the 31st MEU and native from Bellevue, Wash., was enthusiastic about the hike and commented, “I thought the hike was awesome, especially to see all the support from the local people as we walked by.”

Kramer said, “It was a good hike, especially since we were able to see some of the places that are normally closed by the time we are allowed off the ship.”

In closing, Dowling extended his thanks to the people of Cairns for their friendship and support.


31st Marine Expeditionary Unit