WHITE BEACH, Okinawa --
Following a successful three-month patrol of the Asia-Pacific area, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit returned to their forward-deployed home and awaiting friends and family, April 4.
Pulling into port here, the 31st MEU, including Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, Combat Logistics Battalion 31, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265 (REIN) and Marine Attack Squadron 311, departed the numerous ships of the Navy’s Amphibious Squadron 11. The USS Essex, USS Bonhomme Richard, USS Denver and USS Tortuga unloaded more than 1,000 Marines and Sailors with millions of pounds of equipment over the course of three days.
“It’s good to be back home with another deployment out of the way,” said Sgt. Cesar Rojas, section chief with Lima Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines attached to BLT 1/4, 31st MEU. “Although we’re going to be getting back on ship soon for another patrol, it’s good that we all have the summer to be with our families and friends.”
Departing late January, the 31st MEU participated in exercise Cobra Gold 2012, a multi-lateral training evolution with the U.S., Kingdom of Thailand, Republic of Korea and many other participating military forces. Following CG12, the MEU continued their deployment in the Asia-Pacific region, conducting other exercises with partner nations aimed at improving interoperability and theater security. The MEU also conducted a certification exercise off the coast of Okinawa, ensuring its ability to successfully respond to a wide range of scenarios.
“During my entire time with the MEU, this deployment has had some of the best foreign military integration I’ve ever seen,” said Maj. Foster Ferguson, executive officer of CLB-31, 31st MEU. “Every aspect of the exercises has been bilateral to some extent, with the host nations’ forces alongside ours at every step.”
These deployments in the Asia-Pacific region not only benefit the Marines and Sailors of the MEU and the various foreign military forces they train with, but also the Sailors of PHIBRON11 as well.
Within the regimen of all MEU deployments, amphibious integration training is conducted with all of the vessels, assuring smooth integration between the Marine Corps and Navy personnel when executing deployed operations from the sea.
"The work of our Marines and Sailors, alongside our Navy counterparts with Amphibious Squadron 11, prepares us well for future expeditionary operations,” said Col. Andrew MacMannis, commanding officer of the 31st MEU.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.