CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan --
The Marines and sailors of Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines (BLT 3/5) and those of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 (Reinforced) and Marine Attack Squadron 211 (VMA-211) headed home Aug. 22 – 24 after completing the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s (MEU) Spring Patrol.
BLT 3/5 served as the ground combat element (GCE); while HMM-262 (REIN) and VMA-211 served as the Air Combat Element (ACE) for the MEU. While with the MEU, the units conducted multiple combined and joint exercises designed to train them for future missions in various environments.
“The training the Marines received during their time here helped them become more diversified in their combat skills,” said Capt. Serge Morosoff, the company commander for Company K, BLT 3/5. “For example, this jungle atmosphere allowed them to learn tactics different from those of desert conditions.”
According to Morosoff, a native of Alexandria, Va., the deployment also gave the service members a chance to get in touch with their amphibious roots.
“All Marines should have a chance to travel aboard a ship,” Morosoff said. “It would be a shame if after four years in the Corps you weren’t able to experience it.”
While with the MEU, the units trained alongside militaries from the Republic of South Korea, Australia, Thailand and the Republic of the Philippines.
BLT 2/5, based in Camp Pendleton, Calif., arrived on Okinawa recently and is scheduled to conduct training comparable to that of 3/5 during the MEU’s Fall Patrol which kicks off later this month. HMM-265 (REIN) and VMA-513 will fill the role of the ACE.
“This is going to be a great experience for everyone involved,” said 1st Lt. Benjamin Hand, a UH-1N Huey helicopter pilot from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267 (HMLA-267). “The Marines are going to meet people and see places they never have before, and the training is going to be unlike any other.”
HMLA-267 will be attaching to HMM-265 (REIN) for the upcoming fall patrol.
In an email to all the commanders, Lt. Col. Stuart Lockhart, 31st MEU executive officer, noted that it was a pleasure serving with the outgoing GCE and ACE and wished them luck during their travels back to the states. Lockhart also acknowledged the new units joining the MEU and welcomed everyone aboard.
The MEU is currently preparing for its Fall Patrol to the Republic of the Philippines and the Republic of South Korea.