CAMP HANSEN, Japan --
After a year’s absence from Okinawa, the California based 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines returned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Nov. 20 as the new battalion landing team.
The battalion served as the 31st MEU’s ground combat element in 2013 during its Fall Patrol of the Asia-Pacific, conducting bilateral training exercises with the Australian Defense Forces in several locations throughout Australia. They return with a new commanding officer, Lt. Col. Mike Wilonsky, who coincidentally served as a lieutenant with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines two decades ago.
“The Marines and sailors in 2/4 have not changed; only the names and faces have and that is a good thing,” said Wilonsky, from Dallas, Texas.
Following their previous deployment to Okinawa, the unit went home in December 2013 to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and prepared themselves to become part of the 31st MEU again, according to Maj. Carlos R. Cuevas, the battalion’s operations officer. The Marines honed their basic infantry skills, both individually and as a team, through courses in mountain warfare, cold-weather survival and raids involving mechanized support that concluded with a series of live-fire training.
The “Magnificent Bastards,” the battalion’s nickname, are perfect for the job, according to Wilonsky.
“We provide a kit bag full of special insertion methods, whether it is one of the (combat rubber raiding crafts), an amphibious tractor or a helicopter assault,” said Wilonsky. “Each line company within the battalion has a specialized capability that allows them to get to and from an assault easily.”
The BLT is trained to conduct a variety of combat and noncombat missions as part of the Marine Air Ground Task Force. The flexibility of the MAGTF provides the MEU commander with several options when deciding how to accomplish assigned tasks.
“The BLT has the capability to project itself from the Amphibious Readiness Group’s ships into a particular (area of operation), whether it is for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, combat operations or security operations,” said Cuevas, from Cocoa, Florida. “All our training culminated into becoming a ground combat element, a force ready to execute anything from noncombat operations to high-conflict combat operations.”
The Marines of BLT 2/4, along with the rest of the 31st MEU, are scheduled to deploy in early 2015 in support of the regularly scheduled Spring Patrol. The 31st MEU is the Marine Corps’ force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific region and is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU.