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Silent Night, Black Hearts raid insurgent camp

22 Sep 2009 | Story by Lance Cpl. Thomas W. Provost

Quietly motoring across the ocean surface under the cover of darkness, 18 Combat Rubber Raiding Crafts (CRRC) carried Marines to a beach to enter a mock insurgent camp and disrupt activity in the area.

More than 120 Marines with Company F (Co. F), Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines (BLT 2/5), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), conducted a boat raid as part of MEU Exercise 2009.

“This mission was important because it gave the Marines of the MEU raid force a realistic situation to encounter,” said 1st Lt. Jeremy D. Adams, the officer in charge of the mock insurgent camp and Powell, Wyo. native. “The only thing that makes Marines proficient is to provide realistic training scenarios that allow Marines to gain the experience necessary to execute a mission,” he said.

To enhance the raid’s realism, some Marines role-played as insurgents armed with blank ammunition and executing a day-to-day activities schedule within the insurgent camp.

“Insurgent leaders held weapons classes and gave propaganda lectures as a part of that schedule,” said Adams.

However, the MEU reconnaissance elements kept the enemy under close surveillance, reporting back to the raid force everything they saw over the course of these two days.

“The reconnaissance assets provided valuable information on the enemy,” said Capt. Rich V. Yudt, Co. F commander. “That information drove our planning and execution.”

The Black Heart Company, a nickname Co. F earned during the Vietnam War, arrived at Beach Landing Site Silver, and secured it for follow on forces. The Black Hearts then made their way inland, flanking the insurgent camp by advancing from north to south with the ocean cutting off any hope of escape.

Company F had been preparing and training with the complex tactics of a boat raid for months before arriving on Okinawa.

 According to Yudt, this training paid off during MEUEX ’09.

“We train for boat raids so we can have a clandestine element of surprise and provide the MEU commander with another option for insertion,” said the Allentown, Pa. native. “MEUEX validated our previous training and allowed us to prove our ability to successfully execute a complicated amphibious raid.”  

Company F is now validated and ready to serve as the BLT’s boat company and support the MEU during its Fall Patrol of the Asia Pacific Region.

The MEU is considered a force in readiness in the Asia Pacific Region and needs to be able to respond to a variety of contingencies with appropriate action. 

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit