WHITE BEACH NAVAL FACILITY, OKINAWA, Japan --
The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit returned to Okinawa Nov. 23 after a nearly three-month deployment of the Asia-Pacific region.
The MEU, along with the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, served as a Maritime Contingency Force in the region, conducting bilateral training with US allies and providing support during humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations in the Republic of the Philippines.
The 31st MEU began its deployment in September with most of the force traveling to Guam to conduct certification training, while a detachment of Marines and Sailors, aboard the USS Denver (LPD 9), made their way to Korea to participate in the 60th anniversary of the landing at Inchon.
In October, the ARG linked back up to participate in the bilateral training exercise PHIBLEX 2011 with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
During the exercise, Super Typhoon Juan struck the Republic of the Philippines and the contingency force was called upon to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in Isabela Province.
For some, the deployment was an opportunity to experience a different side of the Marine Corps.
“This was a unique change of pace,” said Lance Cpl. Sanvir Sindal, administration clerk with the 31st MEU. “I was able to learn how my MOS operates under different situations and I also had the opportunity to learn more about how the Navy and Marine Corps co-exist aboard a naval vessel.”
The 31st MEU is constantly receiving new personnel, and major subordinate units like the Ground Combat Element rotate frequently. One of the biggest challenges the 31st MEU faces is a quick integration of the supporting units.
“Putting the team together and making it one unit to exercise what we need to be doing out here is probably the hardest thing to do and one of the biggest accomplishments,” said Col. Andrew MacMannis, 31st MEU commanding officer. “I am very proud of our Marines and Sailors and what they have accomplished on this deployment.”
The 31st MEU remains a force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific region despite having just returned home to Okinawa. The 31st MEU is the only MEU that is permanently forward-deployed, and remains continually ready to respond to the nations’ call.