Photo Information

A Marine with Company G, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, exits an amphibious assault vehicle during a mock mechanized assault, July 19. The assault was conducted in Australia during exercise Talisman Sabre 2011. TS11 is the largest joint military exercise undertaken by the Australian Defence Force. Around 14,000 U.S. and 9,000 Australian personnel will participate. TS11 provides an opportunity to conduct operations in a combined and joint environment that will increase both countries’ bilateral war-fighting capabilities to respond to crisis and to provide humanitarian assistance. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Garry J. Welch

Marines seize Sam Hill Airfield

19 Jul 2011 | Lance Cpl. Garry J. Welch

Marines and Sailors of Company G, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, seized Sam Hill airfield during a mock mechanized assault, July 19.

Shortly after Company G stormed Freshwater Beach with Amphibious Assault Vehicles during a mock amphibious landing, they quickly set up blocking positions allowing three landing craft air cushioned vehicles to land and unload Marines and vehicles of Combat Logistics Battalion 31, Combined Anti-Armor Team 1, and Light Armored Reconnaissance Team, all with the 31st MEU.

Once all assets were ashore, more than 240 Marines and Sailors quickly transitioned from an amphibious assault to a mechanized assault aimed at seizing the Sam Hill Airfield.

Cautiously moving forward with dismounted infantry supported by AAV’s, the Marines made steady progress throughout the day.

Running into sporadic machinegun fire, the Marines would spring into action, immediately returning fire and assaulting towards the suspected enemy positions.

“The Marines reacted exactly as they should,” said Staff Sgt. Ricardo O. Marston, 2nd Platoon commander, Company G., 2/7, 31st MEU. “We are used to training in the desert, so moving through this terrain is new to us. But it didn’t slow us down much, we just did what Marines do and adapted.”

After the area they took fire from had been secured, the Marines would continue to push forward.

Other obstacles that the Marines ran into were mock Improvised Explosive Devices, road blocks with ambushes, and razor wire.

The enemy, played by U.S. soldiers, frequently attacked the assaulting force throughout the day and late into the night in an attempt to slow it down.

But by the end of the day, the Marines had completed their mission and captured the airfield in less than a day.

“We are now transitioning into stability and support operations,” said 1st Lt. Andrew Clay, the executive officer of Company G, BLT 2/7, 31st MEU. “We are now trying to restore a legitimate government and stabilize the region in this fictional scenario.”

Upon completion of the mock assault, many Marines said they were glad to have had the opportunity to train in Australia, and familiarize themselves with terrain that they are not used to operating in.

TS11 is the largest joint military exercise undertaken by the Australian Defence Force. Around 14,000 U.S. and 9,000 Australian personnel will participate. TS11 provides an opportunity to conduct operations in a combined and joint environment that will increase both countries’ bilateral war-fighting capabilities to respond to crisis and to provide humanitarian assistance.

The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.


31st Marine Expeditionary Unit