KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa, Japan --
The first elements of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment have arrived here, June 4, to become the battalion landing team of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Known as “the Professionals,” the battalion landing team’s approximately 1200 Marines and Sailors will become the ground combat element of the 31st MEU’s Marine Air Ground Task Force, and are scheduled to deploy throughout the Asia-Pacific region in support of Theater Security Cooperation and to serve as an immediate response to any potential real-world contingencies.
“The Marines are excited to be here, not only to see other parts of the world, but to know they are making a difference in this region,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Priddy, commanding officer, BLT 2/1, and native of Channahon, Ill. “The opportunity for a MEU deployment, with the multitude of missions, different training environments, flexibility and variety of platforms ensures that we will be prepared for any contingency, real or exercise.”
The high operational tempo of the 31st MEU will assist the Marines of 2/1 in the development of new skills, while refining their basic fundamentals.
“This is a great opportunity for on-the-job training,” said Sgt. Louis Cortes, 2/1’s assistant mess chief. “Every climate is different. Every type of training is different, and while it will take some time to adjust, we will be ready for anything.”
This positive “can do” attitude has served 2/1 well throughout its long and storied history. First activated in August, 1922, at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the battalion has earned numerous unit citations through their actions in Guadalcanal, Okinawa, the Chosin Reservoir, Hue City, and recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. The battalion also has experience as the 31st MEU’s battalion landing team, with their most recent deployment in 2007.
In addition, the ranks of 2/1 have been filled by a “who’s who” of Marine Corps history, with Gen. Peter Pace, Maj. Douglas “the Lion of Fallujah” Ziembec, and Robert Leckie, author of “Helmet for my Pillow,” all proudly serving within the battalion during their careers.
With an appreciation for their decorated history and a focus on the upcoming missions, the Marines of 2/1 say they are excited to join the only continually forward deployed MEU in the Marine Corps.
“We are really looking forward to this deployment,” said Sgt. Daniel Lopez, a squad leader for 2/1’s security element platoon and native of Sterling, Colo. “The change of pace will be good, so will working out of different locations. This is what we train for. This is what we do.”
The training exercises the “Professionals” of 2/1 will conduct with the 31st MEU are designed to enhance multilateral collaboration and interoperability with allied forces, in which they will play an integral role.
“We bring value as a means to move Marines quickly from ship to shore and we look forward to the opportunity to train with other nation’s militaries,” said Priddy.
The deployment of 2/1 to Okinawa is part of the Marine Corps’ Unit Deployment Program, which was established by the Commandant of the Marine Corps in 1977 to provide for the deployment of units to the Western Pacific for periods of approximately six months.
The 31st MEU is the United States’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region and the only continually forward-deployed MEU.
Additional photos of BLT 2/1’s arrival in Okinawa can be viewed on the 31st MEU Facebook site at: www.facebook.com/31stMEU.