USS Bonhomme Richard, At Sea --
Held up tight in two locations, insurgents possessing improvised explosive devices were on the wrong side of the table, face to face with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. Unaware of their imminent demise, various elements of the Marine Air Ground Task Force combined their combat power to destroy the opposing force.
Marines and Sailors from the 31st MEU conducted the culminating exercise for their Amphibious Integration Training here, September 2.
AIT combines the 31st MEU’s Battalion Landing Team, Air Combat Element and Combat Logistics Battalion with the amphibious ships they operate from under the Navy’s Amphibious Squadron 11 to enhance the interoperability between the two services.
The Marines were given the mission to clear notional insurgents in and around Camp Hansen. The scenario brought together multiple units in one raid, moving from the amphibious ships to the beach of Kin Blue before raiding an insurgent-ridden town.
The raid force from Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines Regiment, 31st MEU, was comprised of Company F. and Company G., known as “Boat” and “Helo” companies respectfully, with Weapons Company providing support with their reconnaissance vehicles and combined anti-armor teams.
The assault commenced with Boat Co. securing Kin Blue Beach and making the initial contact against the enemy. Utilizing the cover of darkness, the company neutralized resistance and seized anti-aircraft weapons at the objective.
“We encountered sporadic resistance when landing on the beach and heading toward the objective,” said Cpl. Joseph R. Ceccarelli, a mortarman with BLT 2/1 and a native of Tacoma, Wash. “While there were many factors just in the initial raid, every moving part ran smoothly.”
Weapons Co. then moved to the outskirts of an enemy-held town, securing a landing zone for multiple CH-46E Sea Knights and a CH-53E Super Stallion from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 (Reinforced) transporting Marines and Sailors with Golf Co.
“After Company F. secured their objective and completed their raid, Company G. was close behind,” said 2nd Lt. Cory Moyer, a platoon commander with Company G. “Golf moved from the insertion point with CAAT to clear the city.”
After they completed their sweep of the town and accomplishing their mission, Company G. and Company F. departed to the ship.
“This raid was a good opportunity for the new (Battalion Landing Team) and the (Air Combat Element) to work with the Navy for the first time,” said Capt. George Stegmiller, a forward air controller with BLT 2/1 and a native of Upper Arlington, Ohio. “This raid exemplified exactly what the MEU is designed to do.”
The embarked MEU will continue its regularly scheduled deployment throughout the Asia-Pacific region, conducting theater security operations and bilateral exercises.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.