Meet the UNITS
The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU)
is one of seven Marine Expeditionary Units in
existence in the United States Marine Corps.
The Marine Expeditionary Unit is a Marine Air
Ground Task Force with a strength of about
2,200 personnel. The MEU consists of a command element, an infantry battalion with artillery, amphibious vehicle and other attachments, a
composite helicopter squadron reinforced with a
Harrier squadron and a combat logistics battalion.
The 31st MEU is based at Camp Hansen, Marine
Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Okinawa,
Japan. This is the only permanently forward-deployed MEU, and is America’s expeditionary force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.
The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit provides a forward deployed, flexible sea-based
Marine Air Ground Task Force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis
response and limited contingency operations in the Asia-Pacific area.
Meet the UNITS
Capt. Garron Garn
Public Affairs Officer
GySgt Ismael Pena
Combat Camera Chief
Staff Sgt. Joseph DiGirolamo
Public Affairs Chief
Sgt. Jonathan Wright
Public Affairs NCOIC
Cpl. Henry Antenor
Cpl. August Light
Combat Camera: Video
Lance Cpl. Brian Bekkala
Combat Camera: Photo
Lance Cpl. Richard Currier
Combat Camera: Photo
lLance Cpl. Robert Williams
Special Thanks to:
GySgt. Enrique Mari
Sgt Luke Lamana
31st MEU CE S-2
3rd Battalion 5th Marines (3/5)
is an infantry battalion in the
United States Marine Corps.
The battalion, nicknamed
“Dark Horse”, is based out
of Marine Corps Base Camp
Pendleton, California and
consists of approximately 1,000
Marines and Sailors. They fall
under the command of the 5th
Marine Regiment and the 1st
Combat Logistics Battalion 31
(CLB-31) is a logistics battalion
of the United States Marine
Corps. CLB-31 is the Logistics
Combat Element (LCE) of
the 31st Marine Expeditionary
Unit (31st MEU), the only
MEU in the Marine Corps.
As the Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 31 provides all elements of
the MEU with combat service
support. To do this, CLB-31
comprises a Headquarters,
a Motor Transport Platoon,
Engineer Platoon, Explosive
Ordnance Disposal (EOD)
Platoon, Maintenance Platoon,
Supply Platoon, Military Police
Platoon, Landing Support Platoon, Communications Platoon
and its Health Service Support.
Additionally, CLB-31 provides
the 31st MEU with ammunition, postal and disbursing
Marine Medium Tiltrotor
Squadron 262 (VMM-262) is
a United States Marine Corps
tiltrotor squadron consisting
of MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor
aircraft. The squadron, known
as the “Flying Tigers”, is based
at Marine Corps Air Station
Futenma, Okinawa, Japan
and falls under the command
of Marine Aircraft Group 36
(MAG-36) and the 1st Marine
Aircraft Wing (1st MAW). The
unit is also agumented with
detachments of CH-53 Super
Stallaions, UH-1Y (Huey’s),
AH-1W Super Cobras. The
31st MEU rotates its Osprey
detachment every year while
reinforcing detachments roate
on a semi-annual basis.
Marine Attack Squadron 542
(VMA-542) is a United States
Marine Corps fixed wing attack
squadron that consists of AV8B Harrier (V/STOL) jets. The
squadron is based at Marine
Corps Air Station Cherry
Point, North Carolina and falls
under the command of Marine
Aircraft Group 14 (MAG-14)
and the 2nd Marine Aircraft
Wing (2nd MAW).
Sgt Kyle Stanford
31st MEU CE S-3
Cpl. Nahum Joaquin
Cpl. Christophe Edler
BLT 3/5 H&S
Cpl. Arahn Huddleston
BLT 3/5 Kilo Company
Sgt. Ciera Roberts
Quick snap shot of the 31st past
The NEWs Wire
Articles from the Float
Public Affairs Office / Combat Camera
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit History
he 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit was activated
on 1 March 1967 as Special Landing Force Alpha,
for operations in Vietnam. It made the first of
many amphibious deployments from Okinawa on 10 April
The first operation actually conducted was on 14 Apr
1967, when the MEU conducted a rescue of the crew of
the SS Silver Peak, a Panamanian vessel run aground by
Typhoon Violet, in vicinity of Minami Ko Shima Island,
Japan. Days later, it was committed to Operation Union, a
search and destroy mission in Vietnam.
It was during this period of intense combat that Special
Landing Force Alpha earned the Presidential Unit Citation. The unit participated in continuing combat operations ashore over the next three years, including the
Vietnam Tet counteroffensive in 1969, while returning to
Okinawa periodically for re-outfitting and the rotation of
Battalion Landing Team 3/5
1980s and 1990s
he 31st MAU remained the forward-deployed
U.S. presence in the Western Pacific and Southeast
Asia. Combat operations were replaced by regional
exercises, which allowed training opportunities in a variety
of countries. In 1983, the 31st MAU was recalled from a
combined exercise with local forces in Kenya, and positioned in the Mediterranean Sea. Its mission from September to October 1983 was to support U.S. peacekeeping forces in Beirut during an intense period of complex
political and life-threatening conditions in Lebanon. It was
the 31st MAU’s last operation of that period and the unit
was deactivated in May 1985.
The unit was reactivated as the 31st Marine Expeditionary
Unit (Special Operations Capable) on 9 September 1992.
In 1994, the unit was relocated to its current home station
at Camp Hansen, in Okinawa, Japan.
he flexibility of the MEU was demonstrated with
the Iraq crisis in late 1998 regarding the regime
not complying with the U.N. weapons inspections
process. All four ARG ships had just completed Exercise
Foal Eagle off the coast of Korea, and were heading to various port visits for liberty, when they received the call on 14
Nov 1998 to sail immediately to Okinawa to onload the
Headquarters and Support Company
Kilo Company - Helo
Lima Company - Boat
India Company - Mech
Combat Logistics Battalion-31
This was followed by participation in Operation Frequent
Wind on 29 April 1975 which was the final evacuation of
Saigon as North Vietnamese forces entered the city.
Special Landing Force Alpha was officially designated as
the 31st Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) on 24 November 1970. Once more the unit returned to the Gulf of
Tonkin. This time, however, the 31st MAU would not be
committed to overt land operations as the Vietnam War
was winding down. The 31st MAU performed presence
missions and conducted a series of special operations
through May 1971. From June 1971 until April 1975,
the 31st MAU conducted numerous deployments to the
waters off Vietnam.
The 31st MAU was then directed to the Gulf of Thailand
for Operation Eagle Pull, the American Embassy evacuation by air of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which took place
on 12 April 1975.
A significant portion of the 31st MEU’s 2000 Marines
were engaged in urban warfare training in Guam when
their message came to return to Okinawa. The rest were
still in Okinawa, but approximately a quarter of those were
a new infantry battalion, just rotating in from California.
The battalion had just two days to gather all their personnel to get ready to deploy.
The 31st MEU and ships’ company personnel started their
initial onloads of the ships on 9 November and completed
the morWning of 11 November. In one night alone, they
loaded more than 170 pallets of equipment, weapons, and
cargo. In addition, a C-5 Galaxy from Marine Corps Air
Station El Toro, originally scheduled to bring maintenance
supplies and tools to Okinawa two weeks later, arrived
early on 10 November 1998 in order to restock the MEU’s
Air Combat Element. This evolution was a part of the nor-
mal supply rotation, but the shipment arrived a week early
– just in time to load onto the ships before they departed.
From Nov 1998 to Feb 1999, the MEU participated in
operations in the Persian Gulf and Kuwait, including Operation Southern Watch and Operation Desert Fox.
ortions of the MEU, including G Company, 2nd
Battalion, 5th Marines, then the MEU’s Battalion
Landing Team; portions of the Command Element;
and HMM-265, the MEU’s former Air Combat Element;
and MEU Service Support Group 31 deployed to East
Timor in January 2000 aboard USS Juneau (LPD-10)
as Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force East
Timor. In East Timor, the Marines and Sailors supported
the transition from the Australian-led International Forces
in East Timor (INTERFET) to the new United Nations
Transitional Administration East Timor (UNTAET).
rom September 2004 to March 2005, the 31st
MEU, including Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion 3rd Marines with accompanying Charlie Battery
of 1st Battalion 12th Marines, conducted combat actions
in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Participation
included a major role in Operation Phantom Fury, the
clearing of Fallujah in November 2004.
ment dedicated its headquarters building at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, to Sergeant Rafael Peralta, who died in
Iraq during Operation Phantom Fury while with the 31st
MEU. Sgt Peralta received the Navy Cross for his actions
In May and June of 2008, the MEU participated in Operation Caring Response after Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar.
In Oct 2009 the MEU assisted in humanitarian & disaster
relief in Luzon, Philippines after Typhoons Ketsana and
Parma hit back to back. Simultaneously, elements of the
MEU assisted in Sumatra, Indonesia after earthquakes
struck the region.
In October 2010, the 31st MEU conducted humanitarian
assistance and disaster relief operations in northern Luzon
after Super Typhoon Megi hit the Philippines.
In March of 2011 the 31st MEU sailed from Malaysia
and Indonesia to mainland Japan to assist in the recovery
efforts after the 9.0 Tohoku earthquake and following tsunami. The 31st MEU participated in Operation Tomodachi, delivering more than 164,000 pounds of food, water
and relief supplies via helicopter. Elements of the 31st
MEU, including the Command Element, Marine Medium
Helicopter Squadron 262 (Reinforced), Combat Logistics
Battalion 31 and 2nd Battalion 5th Marines went ashore
on Oshima Island to remove debris, deliver critical supplies to the isolated area, and provide life support.
With organization changes to Marine Corps reconnaissance units in 2006, all the MEU’s Special Operations
Capable (SOC) designation was removed. The 31st MEU
then became titled as a Maritime Contingency Force,
although it remains capable of conducting the same wide
variety of specialized missions on both sea and land.
In Febuary 2006, the 31st MEU was sent to the Philippines to provide relief assistance during the mudslides in
On 21 September 2007, the 31st MEU Command Ele-
Typhoon Haiyan and Operation Damayan
n November 2013, the 31st MEU acted as a contingency reserve in wake of Typhoon Haiyan in the
Republic of the Philippines. The MEU was conducting unit turnover when they were tasked to respond and
quickly embarked aboard the USS Ashland (LSD 48) and
USS Germantown (LSD 42) of Amphibious Squadron 11
to assist in disaster relief operations in conjunction with
the U.S. Department of State and Joint Task Force 505.
The Aviation Combat Element of the 31st MEU, Marine
Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, flew over 415 flight
hours to deliver aid supplies throughout the region. The
rest of the MEU remained at sea in the Leyete Gulf of the
Philippines to act as a contingency reserve in the event
any more assistance was needed or another disaster were to
strike the area.
South Korean ferry Sewol
n April 2014, the 31st MEU on board the USS Bonhomme Richard assisted assisted in air-sea search and
rescue operations of the Korean ferry Sewol that “sank
near the island of Jindo off the southwestern coast of the
Republic of Korea April 16”.
T h e Ne w s
Lance Cpl. Samuel A. Reid fires 5.56 mm blank
rounds from an M249 squad automatic weapon.
Castello. “So there are a lot of things that we need to be able to sustain and that we need to improve for future operations.”
The scenario included all levels of the units’ chain of command, so analysis and review could be provided from all
participating members to include the battalion commander down to individual riflemen.
“These guys train for this stuff and we try to throw some scenarios in there that they may not be accustomed to, so it’s
not just like walking the dog,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jason M. Whipkey, a Pennsgrove, New Jersey, native and an infantry
unit leader with BLT, 3rd Bn., 5th Marines, 31st MEU. “It was evident by how they executed that they had trained to
this and it was a success.”
CENTRAL TRAINING AREA / Okinawa Japan
Vertical assault prepares MEU Marines
for upcoming deployment
Story and Photos By: Cpl. Adam Miller
raining for an upcoming deployment, Marines participated in a vertical assault scenario July 18 at the
Central Training Area, Okinawa, Japan, during an
ongoing Marine Expeditionary Unit exercise.
The scenario incorporated the 31st MEU’s air and
ground combat elements to test their capabilities in a seizeand-capture response situation which required Marines to
fast-rope from a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter.
“This training is the first time for us to work underneath the 31st MEU’s command element and execute a
vertical assault, integrating the Battalion Landing Team
with the ACE,” said Lt. Col. Robert C. Rice, a Richland,
Washington, native and the commanding officer of BLT
3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st MEU. “It’s an opportunity for us to work together, share standard operating
procedures, and make sure that we can accomplish the
missions assigned to us by the MEU.”
Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 provided support to the ACE by piloting aircraft and directing the insertion of Marines near their objective to seize and capture
simulated high-value individuals.
“Today was a little different for us,” said 1st Lt. Ryan
P. Castello, an infantry officer with BLT 3rd Bn., 5th
Marines, 31st MEU. “We were able to use the fast-rope
technique out of the CH-53 and insert into the landing
zone when it was untenable for the (aircraft) to land. It allows us to get a little bit closer to the objective, faster.”
There are several different ways Marines can respond to
a call for action in the Asia-Pacific area of operation, according to Castello, a Ridgewood, New Jersey, native.
“(This training) is extremely important because in a
combat situation we need to be very familiar with the ACE
that we’re working with, as well as maintain our ability
to execute our tactics, techniques and procedures,” said
Marines prepare to clear a building
at the Central Training Area
CAMP GONSALVES / Okinawa Japan
Marines endure culminating event during jungle warfare training
Story and Photos By: Cpl. Henry Antenor
arines slip and slide
down red clay slopes.
They trudge through
neck-high, insectinfested water. They
belly-crawl through muddy trenches,
wriggle underneath concertina wire,
hop over concrete walls, submerge
face first into a peanut-butter like
sludge and drag themselves through
These were the conditions the
Marines and sailors with Company K, Battalion Landing Team 3rd
Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine
Expeditionary Unit, had to endure
during an endurance course at the
Camp Gonsalves Jungle Warfare
Training Center, June 14.
The Jungle Endurance Course is
the culminating event of the Jungle
Skills. Each company within the BLT
is scheduled to rotate through the
course. Staff instructors at JWTC
spent a week giving the Marines classes on various survival and operational
skills aimed at instilling confidence
in themselves during jungle warfare,
according to Sgt. Jordan T. Webb,
a JWTC instructor with III Marine
“The first part is to build a skillset
that the Marines can use without hesitation,” said Webb, a native of Memphis, Tennessee. “We taught them
how to hasty-rappel, how to build an
improvised stretcher, build a bridge
made of cables and how to navigate
through the jungle while looking out
for snakes, insects and wild boar. All
of this leads to the endurance course
in which they are challenged mentally.
The trick is overcoming your fears.”
Approximately 60 Marines split
into teams of six for the course. Their
day started with hasty-rappelling
down cliffs and slopes as high as sixty
feet. They also traversed across ravines
using rope bridges where jungle
shrubbery shrouded the ground hundreds of feet below.
Hours into the course, the Marines
faced even more obstacles that tested
their mettle. Marines pushed themselves through a winding, mud-filled
culvert that ran under sharp razor wire
and through deep trenches.
“It was a challenge because there
was muddy water coming up to my
neck when standing straight up,” said
Lance Cpl. Blake E. Raulsome, an infantryman with BLT 3/5, 31st MEU,
and a native of Seattle. “We hear
stories of snakes and stuff swimming
in there - ‘Hell no!’ I said (to myself ).
But I still pushed on, overcame my
fears and got a chance to lead. It was a
good confidence builder.”
After this obstacle, Marines would
crawl underneath wooden bridges and
razor wire, keeping a low profile to
avoid simulated machine gun fire cutting the air above them. The course is
designed to keep the Marines on their
bellies or submerged completely for
most of the day.
“My favorite part was the commando crawl,” said Raulsome. “I don’t
know anybody from where I’m from
who has gone through an experience
After two-and-a-half hours of
traversing over brutal terrain and
through several obstacles, the Marines
suffered a simulated casualty. The
Marines were required to construct
a stretcher out of available materials,
such as two wooden sticks, utility
blouses and rope.
“When we crossed the danger area,
the Marines posted security right
away,” said Sgt. Joseph E. Lechnar,
a squad leader with BLT 3/5, 31st
MEU. “They treated the casualty,
built the stretchers, made a (medical
evacuation) request, called for fire and
swiftly got out of the kill zone.”
With the stretcher and their in-
jured Marine on their shoulders, the
Marines dove into the jungle fraught
with natural hurdles; hurdles that
would test the overall teamwork of
“Every step we took in the peanutbutter mud tried to suck us in,” said
Lechnar, a native of Joliet, Illinois.
“At one point, I got stuck, and the
stretcher was on me; I was like, ‘crap!’
It’s a good thing we had other people
go in front and take the stretcher.”
The path was choked between two
slick cliffs, filled with waist-high water
and sticky mud to swallow the Marines’ every step. The end of the gully
was up two more sheer cliffs where
carrying one or two casualties seemed
“I liked the stretcher part,” said
1st Lt. Michael J. Stelma, an infantry
officer with the BLT, 31st MEU, and
a native of Boston. “In order to be
successful, small unit leaders had to
take charge and be in control of the
Take charge they did.
When held down in the mud,
other Marines stepped forward to
assist. When faced by steep hills, they
used a hand over hand method to
hoist the casualty.
The jungle soon gave way to pavement, marking the end of the course.
For some Marines, completing the
course mattered most.
For others, like Lance Cpl. Dylan
Perry, an infantryman with BLT 3/5,
the camaraderie and cohesion built
from the struggle with nature was
“We got through the course as a
team,” said Perry, a native of West
Palm Beach, Florida. “When we were
stuck, we found a system that was best
for the situation and worked together.
It was a challenge, but at the same
time, it was fun. It brought us closer
as a unit.”
Lance Cpl. Michael D. Bott (left) is dragged by
Gunnery Sgt. Clausele Barthold.
Lance Cpl. Zachery K. Berry crawls through muddy water.
Cpl. Connor J. Adlington emerges
from a river and climbs over a wall.
Cpl. Wesley W. Robertson surfaces
Marines carry a simulated casualty
on an improvised stretcher during
the Jungle Endurance Course.
Marines run toward their next objective as part of a company squad
competition at Camp Hansen, Aug.
8. The competition started at 5 a.m.
with one squad starting every twenty
minutes. There were seven total stations
the BLT Marines had to complete, which
included a physical circuit course where
the Marines performed squad pushups,
jumping lunges and air squats
Photo by: Lance Cpl. Brian Bekkala
CAMP HANSEN / Okinawa Japan
BLT 3/5 Marines Race for Time
in Squad Competition
Story By: Cpl. Henry Antenor
Lance Corporal Rashon Burrell, an automatic rifleman maneuvers through a window
(Photo by: Lance Cpl. Brian Bekkala)
arines with Company K, Battalion Landing
Team 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine
Expeditionary Unit, completed a squad competition at Camp Hansen, Aug 8.
For the squad competition, Marines within the company were divided into six squads to accomplish a variety
of challenges as fast as possible.
“This squad competition brought us together as Marines,” said Lance Cpl. Andrew Thompson, an infantry
assaultman with K Co., BLT 3/5, 31st MEU, and a native
of Lincoln, Nebraska. “It builds unit cohesion and a better
bond among brothers.”
The competition started at 5 a.m. with one squad start-
ing every twenty minutes. There were seven total stations
the BLT Marines had to complete, which included a
physical circuit course where the Marines performed squad
pushups, jumping lunges and air squats.
Another station challenged the Marines to answer
infantry-related questions for points that helped toward
their overall time. They concluded the competition with
a swim before using their rifles to shoot at targets while
moving from position to position.
Once the total points and times were calculated, the
winning squad earned bragging rights until the next
competition and the company sledge hammer, a symbol of
pride and strength.
Staff Sergeant Shival Ramroop, an
airframes hydraulic mechanic, gives
stickers to children.
SAPPORO / Japan
Marines showcase Osprey in Sapporo Air Show
Story and Photos By: Cpl. Henry Antenor
arines with Marine
Squadron 262 (Reinforced), 31st Marine
showcased two MV-22 Ospreys as
static displays during the Sapporo Air
Show at Sapporo Okadama Airport,
The Marine pilots and crew
members flew from Okinawa July 18
and made stops at Marine Corps Air
Station Iwakuni and Yokota Air Base
before arriving at Sapporo July 19.
More than 20,000 spectators arrived
at the airport to view approximately
two dozen American and Japanese
commercial and military aircraft.
The 24th Sapporo Air Show is a
biannual event that included flights
from various platforms flying as low
as 400 meters over the crowd.
“Many people here are curious
about the Osprey,” said Sgt. Sachi
Mizoi, a public relations specialist
with the Japan Ground Self Defense
Force, and a native of Hokkaido
Prefecture, Japan. “This is the largest
number of people we’ve had come
to the air show. They want to see the
//This is the largest number of people we’ve had come
to the air show. They want to see the Osprey//
To support the air show, the
Osprey flew north of Tokyo for the
first time since arriving in Okinawa in
In addition to the Ospreys, the
U.S. Navy sent two MH-60S Seahawks helicopters. The remaining
military aircraft were from the Japanese Defense Force.
Spectators ran to see the Ospreys as
soon as the doors opened.
“It is very important to have the
Ospreys at air shows because it allows
the people to get a closer look at the
aircraft,” said Staff Sgt. Shival N.
Ramroop, an airframes hydraulic mechanic with VMM-262 (REIN), 31st
MEU, and a native of Bogota, New
Jersey. “It affects their views in a positive way because they can understand
a little bit more of what the aircraft
The Sapporo Organizing Committee, and its chairman Yoshiro Ito, invited the Marines to bring the Osprey
This event allowed the public to
engage with Marines and familiar-
ize themselves with something they
might have seen at a distance, according to Capt. Kris Hansen, a pilot with
VMM-262 (REIN), 31st MEU, and a
native of Tustin, California.
“People were very eager to see
the aircraft, touch it, talk to us, and
were extremely friendly; we had very
gracious hosts here in Sapporo,” said
While there were many smiles from
children and guests throughout the
venue, the impact of the event had far
greater meaning to the two militaries.
“(This was) a great day for the
alliance, and it was because of the
hard work of all the service members,
and the governments of Japan and
the United States,” according to Maj.
Gen. Andrew W. O’Donnell Jr., the
deputy commander of United States
Forces, Japan. “We want to show
the Japanese public what we do and
why our alliance is so important. The
Osprey is a great aircraft and we hope
that more countries will get involved
with the plane and break new grounds
with what it can do.”
A posted sign helps spectators understand
the capabilities of the MV-22 Osprey
in front of a static display during the
Sapporo Air Show
CAMP HANSEN / Okinawa Japan
Sayonara; JGSDF Soldiers Say Goodbye to
31st MEU after Successful JOEP evolution
Story and Photos By: Cpl. Henry Antenor
oldiers with the Western
Army of the Japan Ground
Self Defense Force concluded their participation
of the Japan Observer
Exchange Program (JOEP)
alongside Marines from Battalion
Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 5th
Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary
Unit, here, Aug. 7.
The JGSDF integrated with the
BLT’s boat company as part of the
six-week JOEP beginning June 23.
As part of the program, the JGSDF
soldiers lived and worked with U.S.
Marines during a pre-deployment
training cycle. The soldiers observed
Marine Corps amphibious operations
and small unit tactics while getting
hands-on practice, giving both Marines and soldiers the opportunity to
benefit from shared learning.
“The Japanese forces as a whole are
an effective and discipline unit,” said
Sgt. Timothy Olsen, machine-gunner
squad leader with the BLT, and a na-
tive of Omaha, Nebraska. “One of the
things they did well is operating as a
small unit boat group. Since they’ve
been with us, they learned to utilize
their scout swimmers more, (they
learned) how silence is key, and Wthat
we have to work together as a team.”
In addition to small boat operations during JOEP, the soldiers
participated in swim qualifications,
which focuses on the basics of water
survival; the Marine Corps Martial
Arts Program, a weapon and handto-hand combative system; and a
conditioning hike aimed to increase
cohesion between the two militaries.
Although the JGSDF won’t be
involved in the 31st MEU’s regularly
scheduled Fall Patrol, they observed
and practiced shallow water egress
training that’s necessary for all Marines to complete prior to boarding
a naval vessel. The SWET chair is a
floating cage training device
that teaches personnel how to
quickly escape from a downed
aircraft in water.
While JOEP offers the Marines exposure to their Japan
counterparts, it also ensures
unit readiness in a wide variety
of operations to ensure the
MEU is always deployable for
real world contingencies.
“The Marines have experience with the battlefield,”
said 1st Lt. Shunsaku Nara, a
training officer with JGSDF’s
12th Regiment, and a native
of Hokkaido, Japan. “They
always talk about posting security, 360-degree defense, keeping accountability of troops.
We would do rehearsals with
the Marines, and after we were gone,
they kept doing more rehearsals. I felt
that (the Marines) are very focused on
the mission and are determined to do
This is the third iteration of JOEP
since 2012 and demonstrates the
continued commitment of the United
States and Japan to working together
to maintain a strong partnership to
respond to future challenges.
“The Japanese have been one of
our longest and closest allies out here
in the Pacific,” said Lt. Col. Robert
C. Rice, the commanding officer
BLT 3/5, and a native of Richland,
Washington. “Any opportunity for us
to work together, as well as facilitate
their ability to do things independently, is a mutual win.”
There were a number of challenges
between the Marines and the JGSDF
//When they landed on the beach, it was difficult to
tell who was who, which was an impressive feat//
soldiers, such as the language barrier and differences with
gear and equipment, but they quickly became a synonymous unit that melded together.
“When they landed on the beach, it was difficult to tell
who was who, which was an impressive feat,” said Col.
Romin Dasmalchi, commanding officer of the 31st MEU,
and a native of Mansfield, Missouri.
After a final formation and gift exchange, the soldiers
and the Marines did not leave without saying goodbye and
taking group photos. The camaraderie built between the
soldiers and Marines will carry on to the next iteration of
“It’s just a great honor to be part of a program like this,”
said Dasmalchi. “Our Japanese partners want to build a
national amphibious capability and I think it’s an honor to
be entrusted with the responsibility to help them do that.
The Marines of BLT 3/5 did a fabulous job in hosting this
exchange and I look forward to the next (JOEP).
The involvement of the JGSDF soldiers in the MEU’s
regularly-scheduled training comes in response to the April
2012 U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee, also
known as the 2+2, statement calling for the enhancement
of the Asia-Pacific Region’s security and defense cooperation. .
Uss Peleliu / At Sea
Marines share History aboard USS Peleliu before and after 9/11
Story and photo By: SSgt. Joseph DiGirolamo
t was the first day of liberty port in Darwin, Australia and Staff Sgt.
James Roberts was enjoying a cold beverage at a local pub with his
buddies. Suddenly, several shore-patrol Marines burst in frantically
yelling to the service members inside to “Get out, get out… get back on
ship… report to the ship!”
In another part of town, Cpl. Jason M. Whipkey just finished his
dinner at the Hog’s Breath Cafe when he overheard rumors about an
attack so he headed toward a telephone.
The date: September 11, 2001.
“We did not have the television on so we did not know why they
were telling us to go back,” said Roberts. “So we were like ‘yeah right,
whatever,’ we are not going back.”
Through the noise and commotion, the pub owners switched on the
TVs. That is when they saw a live video feed of an aircraft flying into
the second World Trade Center tower.
“I found out (watching) the television just as millions of people back
home found out,” said Roberts, a native of Dallas.
Whipkey called his wife back in the states to figure out what was
going on. When he finally got through to her, she told him a plane had
just struck the Pentagon.
“That was when I heard shore patrol running up and down the
streets directing all U.S. personnel back to ship,” said Whipkey, a native
of Carneys Point, New Jersey.
Roberts, Whipkey and the others rushed back to their ship, the USS
Peleliu (LHA-5). Dubbed the “Iron Nickel”, the Peleliu is a U.S. Navy
Tarawa-class amphibious assault ship and was named after the World
War II Battle of Peleliu. It was commissioned May 3, 1980.
Once inside the Peleliu’s hanger
bay, the Marines and Sailors were
told the ship was changing course
and heading toward Afghanistan.
They were headed to war.
“My first emotion was anger,
then the fear of the unknown,”
said Roberts, who was serving as
the scout sniper platoon sergeant
for Battalion Landing Team 1st
Battalion, 1st Marines, 15th Marine
Expeditionary Unit. “Everybody was
pretty pumped because we had done
our workups and we were a fully
capable MEU (at that time).”
It took several weeks for the
MEU to make it to Pakistan following a stop for a humanitarian operation in East Timor. Communication aboard the ship was limited for
security reasons, so the Marines were unable to tell family and friends
what they were doing and where they were going.
“It wasn’t until we got to Pakistan that could we email or call home
to tell them we had a change of plans,” said Roberts. “By the time we
had a chance to call a couple of weeks later, they already knew what was
The Peleliu was the first ship to debark Marines in Afghanistan. The
15th MEU fell under Task Force 58 commanded by then U.S. Marine
Brig. Gen. James N. Mattis. As a side note, this was the same task
force that captured John Walker Lindh in November 2001. Lindh is an
American citizen turned enemy combatant who took part in the Taliban
uprising at Qala-i-Jangi fortress, a Taliban prison. He was later captured
and transported to the Peleliu where he confessed to being a member of
Roberts and his sniper platoon initially operated out of a Pakistani
airfield and then from Forward Operating Base Camp Rhino, which
was the first U.S. base located in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. Their mission was to set up observation posts and patrol
Whipkey, a squad leader in the Javelin platoon with Weapons
Company BLT 1/1, 15th MEU at the time, was one of the first Marines
on the ground in Afghanistan. Whipkey recalls using the Interim Fast
Attack Vehicle to quickly get around the area. The vehicle is small and
light enough to be transported inside a CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter.
“Our mission was to gain the initial foothold in Afghanistan and
I was on the first helicopter that landed on November 25, 2001,” said
“We landed, secured the area and set the defense. Once (3rd Battalion, 6th Marines) came through us and pushed to Kandahar, our
mission was complete so we went back to the (Peleliu).”
Now fast-forward a couple of years.
Whipkey was on the Peleliu again, but this time with the 13th
MEU. The unit had just completed a deployment to Iraq and he recalls
a somber port visit back to Darwin.
“Everybody there remembered us, they knew the ship by name,” he
said. “It was very emotional; the locals were teary-eyed, saying, ‘those
poor American…those poor Yanks.’”
Now, a decade later, Roberts and Whipkey are far removed from the
battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan but are aboard the USS Peleliu for
another deployment, but this time with the 31st MEU. The USS Peleliu
is scheduled to be decommissioned early 2015, making the 31st MEU
the last Marine unit to embark on the ship.
“I have some fond memories of
the Peleliu. They (the ship’s crew)
have treated me well. It is kind of
weird when you leave something
like this and think you’re never coming back, (yet) 13 years later you
end up back here,” said Roberts.
While the two Marines share a
history with the Peleliu, their lives
and responsibilities on ship are
much different. Roberts is now the
Sergeant Major for the 31st MEU
and Whipkey is a Gunnery Sergeant and the platoon sergeant for
Weapons Co., BLT 3/5, 31st MEU.
Combined, they have a total of two
and a half years on the Peleliu.
“I think it is appropriate for me to round out my career here on
the Peleliu as the MEU sergeant major,” said Roberts, who holds the
distinction of having served with all seven MEUs. “We are a unique
MEU that brings some unique capabilities to the fight and the Peleliu is
a unique ship to operate from.”
Roberts’ and Whipkey’s perspective, the ship has not changed a lot
over the years. Both are happy to be able to take part in the chief ’s mess
this time and walk about the ship more freely.
Their experience on the “Iron Nickel” and deploying in response to
the 9/11 attacks has taught them valuable lessons that they share with
their Marines to this day.
“From that day on I’ve always told Marines, ‘hey, you never know’
(what could happen),” said Roberts. “Always be prepared because you
never know where you are going to end up. What may look like a normal deployment may turn out to be something else. When we were in
Darwin, Australia having a drink at a pub, we never imagined that we
would end up in the desert in Afghanistan in combat.”
Ternate / The Philippines
Corpsman set up Shock Trauma Platoon
at PHIBLEX 15
Story and Photo By: Cpl. Henry Antenor
orpsmen with Health Service Support Platoon,
Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine
Expeditionary Unit, established a shock trauma
platoon center here, Sept. 31.
It is an emergency care facility – or ER – in the field
environment, supporting units training at Ternate such as
Maritime Raid Force and Company L, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, both with the 31st
STP provides advance trauma life support, increasing
the patient’s chance of survival from the point of injury. It
has the ability to resuscitate and stabilize the patient before
they have to be transferred to a hospital for further care.
“The STP is capable of treating patients better than a
(Battalion Aid Station), providing a higher echelon of care
than a first responder,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Wilson
Rodriguez, a corpsman with CLB 31, 31st MEU, and a
native of Cleveland, Ohio. “When you look at field care,
there’s a golden hour where if a (service member) is injured
at a high-risk training area, they need to be treated and
cared for as soon as possible.”
The corpsmen with the STP can open airways, perform
minor surgeries and treat heat injuries, to name a few procedures. The platoon can treat six patients at a time with
equipment like ventilators, suction machines, echocardiograms and more.
“These instruments are also included during en route
care, too,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Ollis,
a corpsman with CLB-31, 31st MEU, and a native of
Cambridge City, Indiana. “If we have a casualty we have
to medically evacuate, these instruments can maintain vital
signs and produce oxygen for the patient while the nurse is
getting them moved.”
For some of the corpsmen, the STP’s capabilities and
equipment are new, but they quickly learn what it has to
offer to the Marines, according to Rodriguez.
“The corpsmen have been working very hard to set all
this up,” said Rodriguez. “We were able to set up the tents
and get the equipment to work and learn about each and
every piece of the STP while establishing it.”
The majority of the training areas at Ternate are on the
beach close to the STP, so an injured Marine can receive
care within minutes. Without a nearby STP, it can take
an hour – or longer – to transfer a Marine or sailor to a
medical facility from some of the remote training locations
throughout the Philippines.
“As Marines, we have so much gear we have to carry,
so we won’t have a defibrillator or resuscitator [with us] if
someone gets hurt,” said Lance Cpl. Kenneth Cook, an
infantryman with BLT 3/5, 31st MEU, and a native of
Riverton, Utah. “It’s cool that the corpsmen have this set
up for us while we train. It should be a standard for any
MEU. It’s good to know the corpsmen have our backs.”
Philippine and U.S. Marines attack toward the beach during a simulated amphibious raid for Amphibious Landing
Exercise (PHIBLEX) 15 in Palawan, Philippines, October 2, 2014. PHIBLEX is an annual, bilateral training exercise
conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, U.S. Marines and Navy to strengthen interoperability across a
range of capabilities to include disaster relief and contingency operations.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Matthew Casbarro)
PALAWAN / The Philippines
Philippine, US Marines sharpen Amphibious
Operations during PHIBLEX 2015
Story By: Sgt. Anthony Kirby and Photos By: Pfc. Matthew Casbarro
hilippine and U.S Marines raided a small island
Oct. 2 utilizing combat rubber raiding crafts during
Amphibious Landing Exercise 15.
The Philippine Marines are with the 12th Marine Battalion and the U.S. Marines are with Battalion Landing
Team 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
For the U.S. Marines, the raid was part of
their Certification Exercise, a semi-annual assessment to
test the capabilities of the MEU’s ability to conduct a
variety of missions. This iteration of CERTEX is unique
because it is running concurrently with the objectives of
The assessment evaluates the 31st MEU’s planning,
briefing, preparation and execution processes. After
the evaluation, each phase is broken into categories of
accomplished, partially accomplished or mission unsuccessful, so the MEU commander and Marine Expeditionary Force commanding general are aware of the strengths
and weaknesses of the team.
The day prior to the raid, Philippine and U.S. Marines
integrated and trained side by side to prepare for the mission.
“It was great working with the Armed Forces of the
Philippines; within the hour of us meeting, everyone
had already linked up and immediately started running
rehearsals for training,” said U.S. Marine Capt. Brian T.
Spillane, commander of Company L, BLT 3/5.
The mission scenario, developed by Special Operations
Training Group, required the BLT to raid a small island via
combat rubber raiding crafts.
Once there, they had to clear and secure several houses
while taking simulated enemy fire from a combined group
of AFP and U.S. Marines acting as an opposing force.
“I feel this is important training for all of us because we
learn different tactics,” said Philippine Marine Staff Sgt.
Julius Tumpag, intelligence chief with 12th Marine Bn.,
AFP. “It’s meaningful, and in a way, it’s also fun.”
The strong alliance between AFP and U.S. Marines
has made the execution of the mission a successful one,
according to Spillane.
“They’re a gracious, welcoming host, and I think
we synched up pretty well,” said Spillane. “It’s been a
productive bilateral training exercise.”
PHIBLEX 15 is being conducted by the Armed Forces
of the Philippines alongside U.S. Marine and Navy forces
to strengthen interoperability across a range of military
operations to include disaster relief and contingency
Philippine and U.S. Marines simulate an amphibious landing and beach assault on a small island off the
coast of Palawan, Philippines, Oct. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Anthony J. Kirby)
U.S. Marine Corps reconnaissance swimmers post security
Lance Cpl. Anthony Gallardo mans an
M224 60 mm Lightweight mortar system
U.S. Marines load onto an MV-22B Osprey during Amphibious Landing Exercise 2015 on the USS Peleliu (LHA-5) as
part of a simulated embassy reinforcement, Oct. 2, 2014. PHIBLEX 15 is an annual, bilateral training exercise conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines alongside U.S. Marine and Navy forces to strengthen interoperability
across a range of military operations to include disaster relief and contingency operations. The Marines are with Co.
K, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. The pilots and crew are from
Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 (Reinforced), 31st MEU.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Richard Currier)
Clark Air Base / Papanga, The Philippines
31st MEU Embassy Reinforcement at PHIBLEX
Story By: Lance Cpl. Robert D. Williams Jr and Photos By: Lance Cpl. Richard Currier.
here are many challenges when
operating in the Asia-Pacific region. Whether it is the destructive powers of nature or the effects of
human conflict, thankfully there are
forces in the region equipped to help
stop the chaos.
The Philippine Air Force joined
alongside U.S. Marines with the 31st
Marine Expeditionary Unit and Fleet
Antiterrorism Security Team Pacific
to conduct an embassy reinforcement
and non-combatant evacuation operation during Amphibious Landing
Exercise 15, Oct. 2, 2014.
“This exercise is run by the 3rd
Marine Expeditionary Brigade and it
tests the MEU on a host of [tasks] the
MEU is required to do [in order] to
conduct contingency operations,” said
Lt. Colonel Tom Chalkley, the executive officer for the 31st MEU. “This
exercise is a non-combatant evacuation operation in conjunction with
an embassy reinforcement. In this
scenario, the MEU has been called to
reinforce a consulate and conduct a
relief in place with the (FASTPAC)
First to fight
FASTPAC Marines, specialized
in close quarter tactics and equipped
with state-of-the-art weaponry, were
called to rapidly secure a mock embassy on Clark Air Base, Philippines.
They began their mission from Yokosuka, Japan, were they are forward
deployed to respond to contingencies
in the Asia-Pacific region.
“What we do is basically turn this
place into a [secure environment],”
said Lance Cpl. Jorge Montforte, a
designated rifleman with FASTPAC.
“We lock it down, see where everything is, and stand post.”
Assessing the situation
After FASTPAC Marines secured
the embassy, the Forward Command
Element of the 31st MEU arrived to
assess the conditions and coordinate a
relief and place, according to Chalkley, the FCE officer in charge.
“What you see is Marine forces
flowing ashore, taking over security of
the compound and preparing American citizens for evacuation,” said
Chalkley. “They will evacuate citizens via MEU assets to a safe haven,
whether it’s an airport or back to
Through the exercise, a simulated
mob of rioters and protestors ha-
rassed the personnel at the embassy
by throwing objects, attempting to
penetrate the security and overrun the
The Philippine Air Force sent in
their forces to help control the ongoing disorder.
“We were here to make sure the
aggressors don’t get in and to let them
know this is a restricted area,” said
Ednalyn Tenori, an airman in the
Philippine Air Force. “The teamwork
with the Marines was good.”
The Philippine forces used riot
control methods to keep the mob at
bay and keep embassy personnel safe
until more help arrived.
U.S. Marines patrol through an airfield
Marines with Company I, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion,
5th Marines, 31st MEU, embarked
aboard the USS Peleliu (LHA-5), were
flown via MV-22B Ospreys to reinforce the embassy and begin evacuation procedures.
It is these unique opportunities
- working with different forces in unfamiliar environments such as in the
ongoing exercises in the Philippines
- that enhance the 31st MEU’s ability
to rapidly respond to any contingency,
“It’s something new and there is
always a surprise around the corner,”
said Chalkley. “It’s not like going out
to your backyard training area.”
PHIBLEX is an annual, bilateral training exercise conducted by
members of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines alongside U.S Marine and
Navy Forces focused on strengthening the partnership and relationships
between the two nations across a
range of military operations including
disaster relief and complex expeditionary operations.
U.S. Marines set up a simulated embassy reinforcement
Philippine and U.S. Marines aboard a U.S. Marine Amphibious Assault Vehicle take part in a mechanized assault
during Amphibious Landing Exercise 15 at Naval Education and Training Command, Zambales, Luzon, Philippines,
Oct. 5. PHIBLEX is an annual, bilateral training exercise conducted by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines alongside U.S Marine and Navy forces focused on strengthening the partnership and relationships between the
two nations across a range of military operations including disaster relief and complex expeditionary operations. The
U.S. Marines are with Company I, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary
Unit, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. The Philippine Marines are with 4th Marine Company, Battalion Landing
Team - 9.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph DiGirolamo)
Philippine Marines push toward their object with the
support of a U.S. Marine Amphibious Assault Vehicle
Philippine and U.S. Marines ride inside a U.S. Marine
Amphibious Assault Vehicle
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tyler S. Giguere)
Philippine and U.S. Marines set up defensive positions
alongside U.S. Marine Amphibious Assault Vehicles
NAVAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING COMMAND / Zambales, Luzon, The Philippines
Philippine, US Marines sharpen Amphibious
Operations during PHIBLEX 2015
Story By: Lance Cpl. Tyler Giguere and Photos By: SSgt. Joseph DiGirolamo
hilippine and U.S. Marines conducted an amphibious mechanized assault as part of Amphibious Landing Exercise 15 here, Oct. 5.
A section of U.S. Marine Amphibious Assault Vehicles
departed from the USS Germantown (LSD-42) to storm
the beach. Once on land, Philippine Marines disembarked
the U.S. AAVs and maneuvered toward a simulated objective.
“Operating with the Philippine forces and these men,
you gain an appreciation for what it takes to maintain
peace and what it takes to fight,” said Capt. Braxton H.
Mashburn, the company commander of Company I,
Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st
Marine Expeditionary Unit, 3rd Marine Expeditionary
Brigade. “The Philippine Marines are nothing but the best
The exercise included two AV-8B Harrier jets from
Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 542 that strafed the
beach front with simulated fire. The Philippine and U.S.
Marines then split into two integrated groups with U.S.
Marine AAVs in support. One group provided supporting
by fire while the other group encircled the objective. After
the objective was seized, the Marines searched the surrounding area.
The amphibious landing utilized several U.S. Marine
AAVs, a company of Philippine Marines and a platoon of
“Thank you to the Philippine Marine Corps for executing this bilateral exercise with us and their unbelievable
support for the mission,” said 1st Lt. William D. Comiskey, a platoon commander with Company I, BLT 3/5,
31st MEU, 3rd MEB.
U.S. and Philippine Marines had 12 hours to plan and
complete the assault. The partner nations utilized the rapid
response planning process to prepare for the amphibious
“Overall the whole exercise has gone well,” said Lt. Col.
Robert C. Rice, the commanding officer of BLT 3/5, 31st
MEU, 3rd MEB. “We have had good integration with the
Marines and (our) Philippine counterparts”
The objective was seized in a timely manner and the
mission was a success. Approximately 200 Philippine naval
recruits and officers, as well as about 30 members of the
media witnessed the evolution.
“The Philippine Marines are highly proficient. This is
a great team and a great bond we have created here,” said
Mashburn. “It is an outstanding opportunity that we have
had here working with the Philippine Marine forces and I
look forward to doing this again.”
This is the 31st iteration of PHIBLEX, with the goal of
building relationships and a stronger bond between American and Philippine militaries.
A Philippine Marine contacts members of his unit as U.S. Marine Amphibious Assault Vehicles provide simulated supporting fire. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tyler S. Giguere)
Lt. Col. Robert C. Rice checks communications
NAVAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING COMMAND / Zambales, Luzon, The Philippines
Amphibious Landing Exercise Unites Family
Story and photos By: SSgt. Joseph DiGirolamo
t is common for service members
to travel all over the world by any
means necessary to see family whenever they can.
One family did just that during a
mechanized amphibious assault in the
Philippines, Oct. 5.
“Being on the far side of the world,
we don’t get to see each other much,”
said Barrett O. Comiskey, a businessman who works overseas and traveled
from Taipei, Taiwan, to see his U.S.
Marine brother. “[There’s] no better
welcome to shore than with family
Barrett’s brother, 1st Lt. William
D. Comiskey, a Washington, D.C.,
native is an Amphibious Assault
Vehicle platoon commander with
Company I, Battalion Landing Team
3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st
Marine Expeditionary Unit. His job
that day was to complete an amphibious assault with Philippine and U.S.
Marines during Amphibious Landing
Exercise 15, an annual bilateral train-
ing event in the Philippines.
William did not expect to meet his
brother this way.
“It’s a very special moment for
these guys to meet up in the Pacific,”
said Capt. Braxton H. Mashburn,
company commander for I Co., BLT
3/5, 31st MEU. “It was a special opportunity to do it here in the Philippines.”
Around 500 people, including
Barrett and his family, witnessed more
than 100 Philippine Marines and
a platoon of U.S. Marines assault a
simulated objective on the beach.
After the assault was over, Barrett
with his wife and two daughters were
all anxious to see William jump out of
one of the AAVs.
It took some coordination by Marines with Special Operations Training
Group and Lt. Col. Robert C. Rice,
BLT 3/5’s commanding officer. After
the mission, SOTG Marines directed
William’s AAV to the front of the
viewing stand for the big surprise.
//It’s a very special moment for these guys to meet
up in the Pacific//
Barrett began to wave his hands to
signal to his brother once he saw the
AAV storm down the beach toward
As soon it came to a halt, Barrett
climbed aboard the 30-ton vehicle
and the two brothers hugged for the
first time in over a year.
The crowd of spectators and media
all cheered the moment the two
Barrett then sent in his little assault
force, twin daughters Sora and Tara,
to attack their uncle on the beach.
“This was better than I imagined,”
said Barrett, seeing his brother hoist
his nieces in the air.
William’s commanding officer was
impressed with the exercise and to
see the two brothers meet in such a
“This makes the whole deployment
really special,” said Rice, a Richland,
Washington native. “It makes this
landing special, and memorable.
We’re going to remember this one for
PHIBLEX is an annual, bilateral training exercise conducted by
members of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines alongside U.S. Marine
and Navy forces focused on strengthening the partnership and relationships between the two nations across a
range of military operations including
disaster relief and complex expeditionary operations.
“There’s a lot of bonding going
on here,” said Mashburn. “There is
special relationship here with two
brothers but also a special relationship
between [Philippine and U.S.] forces
as brothers in arms.”
William was glad to showcase what
the Philippine and U.S. Marines can
do together firsthand.
“I know my brother spends half
the year in the Philippines (for work),
and having the opportunity for him
to come out and see what we do, to
see the Marine Corps operate with
foreign nations, it was priceless,” he
Barrett O. Comiskey waves to his brother inside an Amphibious Assault Vehicle that was part of Amphibious
Landing Exercise 15, Oct. 5.
Lt. Col. Robert C. Rice (right) talks with Barrett O. Comiskey as they set up a surprise family reunion at a mechanized
assault. Barrett traveled with his family from Taipei, Taiwan to the Philippines to surprise his brother after they had
not seen each other for over a year.
Philippine Marine Corps Base Gregorio Lim, Ternate, The Philippines
Strengthening ties: CLB Marines clear path
at Philippine Marine Base
Story By: Cpl. Henry Antenor
Marine Corps-oriented to our mission,” said Cpl. Patrick
ooking at the large tractor, known as the TRAM, you
Sorrentino, a heavy equipment operator with CLB-31,
would think of some sort of hybrid between a forkand a native of Philadelphia. “But then we got a call to
lift and a bulldozer. Regardless of how it looks, the
clear boulders off the road. We were pretty excited when
TRAM has allowed U.S. Marines in the Philippines to
we were told we can move something other than (cargo)
help make a difference.
Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st MaA Philippine Marine guided the CLB-31 Marines to
rine Expeditionary Unit, cleared the rubble from a recent
the area where the landslide occurred, which significantly
landslide that blocked part of a road and waterway that
slowed traffic and obstructed water flow.
runs through Philippine Marine Corps Base Gregorio Lim
“[He] pointed out the specific boulders that needed
in Ternate, the Philippines, on Oct. 7. The work ensured
to be removed from the gutter and the rubble from the
potential dangers were averted and cleared the way for
road,” said Cpl. Mitch Jacobsen, a combat engineer with
strengthened relationships between the two allies.
CLB-31, and a native of Minnesota City, Minnesota.
“When you look at the terrain here in Ternate, it’s all
“We got to work on it right away; we had to use both the
hills, there’s not much flat ground,” said Capt. Rodney
TRAM and a bit of manpower.”
James, the camp commandant for CLB-31 at Philippine
Together the Philippine and U.S. Marines hooked
MCB Gregorio Lim, and a native of Baltimore. “So every
ratchet straps to the fork of the TRAM and secured them
time they have a landslide, it does more than just block
underneath the boulders. Then the heavy equipment
a road. It blocks the dams, it blocks the canals. It also
operator removed the largest of the boulders, disposing
increases the risk of having boulders – some that weigh
them to a safe location in the jungle.
about a ton – crashing down on the structures here.”
“We cleared the road and got the debris out of the
James was more than willing to get his guys involved to
way,” said Lance Cpl. Shamus King, a combat engineer
eliminate the risk of debris rolling down hill, hurting the
with CLB-31, and a native of Winston, Massachusetts.
service members or civilians at the base.
“While the operators did their job, the combat engineers
He employed two heavy-equipment operators and two
directed traffic until it was done.”
combat engineers with one giant wheeled powerhouse to
The Marines felt great about cleaning up the landslide,
take on the challenge of clearing the obstacles.
“During our time at
//We got to work on it right away; we had to use
Ternate, we usually move
anything that is [U. S.]
both the TRAM and a bit of manpower//
helping the Filipino populace as well
as the Marines deployed here, according to Lance Cpl. Octavio Ramirez,
the section noncommissioned officer
of heavy equipment for CLB-31, and
a native of Atlanta.
“Everybody that was going by
while we worked on the road was
waving at us and stopped to thank
us,” said Ramirez. “Afterward, we got
a huge meal from the [Philippine]
Master Sergeant and got to eat with
the commander of the base and our
chain of command. We felt really happy that we can help foster relationships here in the Philippines, which
help the Marine Corps out.”
For providing them assistance, the
Philippine Marines wanted to give
back in a gesture of thanks to their
counterparts, according to Philippine
Marine Col. Yuri G. Pesigan, base
commander of MCB Gregorio Lim,
and a native of Oriental Mindoro
Island, the Philippines.
“Every time we have these kinds of
activities, we become stronger together,” said Pesigan. “The U.S. Marine
Corps and the Philippine Marine
Corps have a long-lasting history. Our
troops grew accustomed to working
together. This strengthening of ties
is the essence of the bilateral exercise
conducted in the Philippines where
U.S. Marines and Filipino Marines
U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Octavio
Ramirez maneuvers a tractor
after moving a large boulder
during Amphibious Landing
Exercise 15 at Marine Corps
Base Gregorio Lim in Ternate,
the Philippines, Oct. 7. Ramirez
is the section noncommissioned
officer of heavy equipment with
Combat Logistics Battalion
31, 31st Marine Expeditionary
Unit, and a native of Atlanta.
Tarlac, Luzon, The Philippines
31st MEU Marines visit Bataan Death March
Memorial following PHIBLEX 15
Story By: Lance Cpl. Robert D. Williams Jr.
lood. Sweat. Tears. Agony.
Pain. The Bataan Death March
is defined by these words.
An 80-mile march destroyed
thousands of lives and ruined families.
To honor those who are no longer
here is never to forget.
U.S. Marines with the 31st Marine
Expeditionary Unit visited the Bataan
Death March Memorial at Capas National Shrine, Capas, the Philippines,
to learn lessons about Philippine and
U.S.-shared history and to pay homage to the fallen during Amphibious
Landing Exercise 15, Oct. 8.
The Battle of Bataan
The Battle of Bataan began when
the Japanese launched a surprise
air attack on the Philippine Islands
only five months after the bombing
of Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
The attack was preceded by a ground
invasion that turned into a brutal
three-month long battle beginning on
April 9, 1942. At its conclusion, over
60,000 Filipino and 15,000 American forces became prisoners of war.
The prisoners were forced to march
north to prisoner camps, were beaten,
exposed to the elements, starved and
humiliated during the entire trek.
This ordeal became known as the
Bataan Death March.
Honoring the fallen
U.S. Navy Lt. Yontan Warren
orchestrated the visit, led the tour of
the memorial, and shared the history
of the march with the Marines. “It’s a wonderful experience,” said
Warren, chaplain of Combat Logistics
Battalion 31, 31st MEU. “[We are]
able to connect the souls of those who
are living today to the souls of those
aren’t with us anymore.”
In 2003, the Capas National
Shrine became open to the public.
Now, people from all over the world
can honor the memory of those who
were part of the march.
“It felt good to be able to learn
about this part of our country’s history, how we interacted with other
cultures and why we keep coming
back,” said Lance Cpl. Joseph
Hawkins, a Towed Artillery Systems
Technician with CLB-31, 31st MEU.
“I always heard things on the History Channel about the Bataan Death
March, but I didn’t know much about
it until now.”
Engraved names and memories of
the fallen adorn the walls of the memorial. There are thousands of names
of those endured the march. There
are still names being etched into the
“We have a lot of forgotten history
in the Philippines that is an important
part of our heritage,” said Chief Warrant Officer Luis Carrillo, a Marine
Gunner with Battalion Landing Team
3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st
Trees are also a part of the memorial to help understand the magnitude
of the fallen, according to Warren.
“There are 21,000 trees right now
and they’re trying to get up to 31,000.
Each tree represents a person. It’s a
visual, living reminder of someone
who is no longer alive,” said Warren.
“The mahogany trees represent the
Americans who died and the “Narra”
tree, the Philippine national tree, represents the Filipinos. They’re planting
a mini forest in formation as an actual
living testimony to those who died.”
In total, more than one hundred
Marines visited the site in two days.
PHIBLEX is an annual, bilateral training exercise conducted by
members of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines alongside U.S. Marine
and Navy Forces focused on strengthening the partnership and relationships between the two nations across a
range of military operations including
disaster relief and complex expeditionary operations.
SUBIC BAY / The Philippines
Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group concludes
Story By: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua Hammond
ailors and Marines from the
Peleliu Expeditionary Strike
Group (PEL ESG) completed
the 31st iteration of Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX)
Friday, Oct. 10.
PHIBLEX 15 is an annual, bilateral training exercise conducted by the
Armed Forces of the Philippines, U.S.
Navy and Marines to strengthen cooperation across a range of capabilities
to include disaster relief and maritime
“This was another great opportunity for our amphibious forces in
7th Fleet to train side-by-side with
the AFP to better understand our
capability to rapidly respond to any
potential crisis in the region”, said
Rear Adm. Hugh D. Wetherald,
commander, Expeditionary Strike
Group Seven. “Exceptional men and
women doing extraordinary things
everyday; I couldn’t be more proud of
our Sailors and Marines and what we
accomplished during this exercise.”
This year’s PHIBLEX included four
major components: the 31st MEU
Certification Exercise, command post
exercise, a field training exercise, and
humanitarian assistance operations.
“The exercise was an overwhelming
success because we were able
to train and integrate with our
Philippine partners,” said Col. Romin
Dasmalchi, commanding officer of
the 31st MEU. “All elements of the
(Marine Air Ground Task Force) were
able to train bilaterally with our
partners in several complex amphibious operations and live-fire events that
contributed to our overall success and
demonstrated the unique capabilities of a MEU/ARG. I have no doubt
that as this exercise concludes, we are
more prepared to work together with
our partners in any future military
PEL ESG ships, USS Peleliu (LHA
5) and USS Germantown (LSD 42),
also hosted AFP counterparts to
train and plan various amphibious
operations, maritime security operations, ship-to-shore movements and
disaster relief drills.
“The 7th Fleet area of
responsibility is prone to natural
disasters yet hosts a large portion
of the world’s sea commerce,” said
Capt. Heidi Agle, commodore of
Amphibious Squadron Eleven.
“Training scenarios like PHIBLEX
including maritime security and
disaster relief components allow
us to work side by side with our
Philippine partners and enhance our
mutual capabilities to respond to any
Closing ceremonies took place at
Fort Bonifacio in Manila, officially
concluding two weeks of PHIBLEX
bilateral training events.
The Peleliu Expeditionary Strike
Group, commanded by Rear Adm.
Hugh Wetherald, is conducting joint
forces exercises in the U.S. 7th Fleet
area of responsibility.
The amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) arrives at White Beach,
Okinawa. Peleliu is the lead ship of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group,
commanded by Capt. Heidi Agle, and is conducting joint forces exercises in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass
Communication Specialist Seaman Patrick Dionne)
SUBIC BAY / The Philippines
Top Philippine and US Military Officials celebrate
Together during PHIBLEX 15 closing ceremony
Story By: Lance Cpl. Robert D. Williams Jr.
hilippine and U.S. service
members attended the closing ceremony of Amphibious
Landing Exercise 15 here Oct.
PHIBLEX is a two-week-long
bilateral exercise that allows Philippine and U.S. armed forces to work
cooperatively in a range of military
operations, such as complex amphibious operations and disaster relief
“PHIBLEX 15 has accomplished
more than what is expected,” said
Philippine Marine Maj. Gen. Romeo
Tanalgo, commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps. “The training
objectives were all met and our units
are now more capable to respond to
different situations where our services
are needed most.”
During PHIBEX 15, the Philippine and U.S. service members completed a combined amphibious assault
exercise, a combined arms live-fire exercise and a multitude of other events
that integrated military teamwork.
“It was an absolute honor and
privilege to serve with another
professional amphibious military
force. These guys were ready to train
shoulder-to-shoulder,” said U.S.
Marine Col. Romin Dasmalchi, the
commanding officer for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. “They were
ready to execute all of the amphibious operations that we came down
here to do. We learned a few things
from them just like they learned a few
things from us.”
Another goal of PHIBLEX 15 was
to fortify the bond between the two
“The accomplishments of our
young men and women during
PHIBLEX 15 showcased our enduring relationship and proved that our
alliance remains a key source of security and stability in the Asia-Pacific
region,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm.
Hugh Wetherald, commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet. “We must
be ready and we must be relevant. We
must provide our nations with Navies
and Marine Corps that are viewed as
nothing less than a force–of-choice
where it matters, when it matters.”
The timing of the exercise plays a
key role as well.
“You’ll notice that PHIBLEX is in
the months of September and October, that is typhoon season for the
Philippines,” said Philippine Marine
Corps Col. Jimmy Larida, chief of
staff for education and training. “For
typhoon season, the forward posturing of U.S. forces in our country
would make it easier to act in case of
real world humanitarian assistance/
disaster relief once the Philippine government requests U.S. assistance.”
An average of 20 typhoons hit in
the Philippines each year.
“We have broadened our capabilities for humanitarian assistance and
disaster response by allowing our
militaries to respond more rapidly
during emergency and calamities like
the recent typhoon Yolanda late last
year,” said Tanalgo, during his speech
at the closing ceremony.
Beyond amphibious operations
and disaster training scenarios, the
Philippine and U.S. service members
worked on several civic projects during the exercise.
“The humanitarian and civic assistance projects in Zambales and
Palawan had a positive impact on
thousands of people,” said Wetherald.
“School buildings were renovated,
over 4,000 patients seen by our
combined medical staff and most
importantly our militaries were able
to exchange knowledge and share best
practices that allow us to continue to
grow and improve together.”
Both parties mutually agree that
training in the Philippines enhances
their military capabilities.
“[We learned] a lot of the smallunit tactics based on their environment,” said Dasmalchi. “They were
able to impart some wisdom on our
Marines about jungle warfare because
(the Philippines) has that type of environment.”
With more experience under their
belts, the U.S. Marines have grown
due to being in the different training
areas according to Dasmalchi.
“I thought it was fantastic,” said
Dasmalchi. “It was an absolute positive experience.”
Sgt. Maj. James Roberts
31st MEU Sergeant Major
Col. Romin Dasmalchi
31st MEU Commanding Officer
Lt. Col. Thomas Chalkley
31st MEU Executive Officer
Chaplain and RP
CPL PIGG BEING
CHAIR CARRIED BY LCPL GOLDSBERRY AND
LCPL KEENE IN AN ENDURANCE EXERCISE
CBRN PLATOON IN ITS ENTIRETY
TEAM 3 DECONTAMINATION: LCPL KEENE,
CPL JOAQUIN, AND LCPL NEWMAN
TEAM 1 RECONNAISSANCE: FROM LEFT TO RIGHT;
LCPL JACKSON, LCPL CHARLOT, LCPL ANTWINE, AND
TEAM 2 EXTRACT: CPL SIEBERT,
LCPL PAGE, LCPL RHODES, AND LCPL
TEAM 1 TEAM MEMBER
FILLING OUT CUSTODY
CARDS TO CORRECTLY
WITH UNKNOWN HAZARDS
OLLOW ITH UNKNO
LCPL ENING A D
NG IN STYLE WITH
CPL DELEON, AND
MARITIME RAID FORCE
Lieutenant Colonel Robert C. Rice
3/5 COMMANDING Officer
Lieutenant Colonel Robert C. Rice was commissioned into the Marine Corps in
1992 through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) program at
the University of Washington and received a B.A. in Political Science. Additionally he has a M.A. in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College and
a M.A. in Organization Management from the University of Phoenix. Born in
Richland, WA, Lieutenant Colonel Rice grew up overseas, mainly in Europe, as
the son of a Foreign Service Officer, graduating High School in 1989 from the
American International School in Vienna, Austria.
His previous tours in the operating forces include:
Platoon Commander, Company Executive Officer, and Company Commander;
2d Battalion, 3d Marines, Kaneohe Bay, HI (deployed twice to Okinawa, Japan
iso Unit Deployment Program)
Company Commander and Operations Officer; 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance (LAR) Battalion, Camp Pendleton, CA
LAR Company Commander; 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (deployed
2001-2002 in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM)
OIC Police Partnership Program – Ramadi, Iraq 2005-2006; advisor tour with the Iraqi Police in support of Operation IRAQI
Executive Officer; 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, Camp Pendleton, CA (deployed 2007-2008 to Fallujah, Iraq in support of Operation
Operations Officer, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Camp Pendleton, CA (deployed 2009-2010 in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM).
His previous staff and supporting establishment assignments include: Executive Officer, Recruiting Station Portland, OR, Company
Commander, LAV Training Company, School of Infantry (West), Plans Officer, Officer Assignments, Manpower & Reserve Affairs,
Headquarters Marine Corps, Quantico, VA, Military Assistant, 2005 Presidential Inauguration Washington DC, Action Officer,
Security Cooperation/Interagency policy, international Affairs, Plans Policy & Operations, HQMC, Pentagon
Sergeant Major Carlos Ruiz
3/5 SERGEANT MAJOR
Sergeant Major Ruiz enlisted in the Marine Corps February 1993 in
Phoenix, Az. On 2 November 1993, he reported to recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Ca. He graduated
in January 1994 and reported to Marine Combat Training, Golf
Company, Camp Pendleton, Ca. Upon completion, Sergeant Major
Ruiz reported to Supply School, Camp Johnson, North Carolina
and received the Military Occupational Specialty of 3051, Basic
In May 1994, Sergeant Major Ruiz reported to Supply Company, 3d
Supply Battalion, 3d Force Service Support Group (FSSG), Okinawa, Japan for duty as a company clerk. In May 1996 he received
orders to Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow, California to serve
as a contracting and purchasing NCO. During this tour Sergeant
Major Ruiz earned the title of “Marine of the Year” for 1997.
In October 1998, he received orders to Recruiting School, MCRD
San Diego, Ca. Upon graduation he was assigned to 12th Marine
Corps District, Recruiting Station Los Angeles, Recruiting Sub-Station Culver City and later PCS Hollywood, Ca. In October 2001,
Sergeant Major Ruiz received orders to Supply Company, 1st Supply Battalion, 1st FSSG. In January 2003, he received
orders to Operation Iraqi freedom and was assigned to the Equipment Reception Platoon and later to Combat Service
In April 2004, Sergeant Major Ruiz requested orders to Drill Instructor School class 4-04. He graduated in September
2004 as the recipient of the Leadership Award as well as the class honor graduate. Sergeant Major Ruiz was assigned to
Company L, Third Recruit Training Battalion. In October 2006, Sergeant Major Ruiz was transferred to the Instructor
Staff, Drill Instructor School, MCRD San Diego, California as a Drill Instructor School Instructor. During this period
he held the billets of Drill Master, Physical Training Instructor, and later the School’s Chief Instructor. In April 2008,
he reported to Supply Company, Combat Service Support Group-15. He served as Company Gunnery Sergeant until
His military education includes the Infantry Officer Course, Amphibious Warfare School, Command & Staff College (non-resident), Winter Mountain Leader, Airborne, Calvary Leaders, Security Assistance Management Executive Course, and the Aviation
Commander’s Safety Course. LtCol Rice was a Fellow in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Seminar XXI program and is a
Western European Foreign Area Officer.
In February 2009, Sergeant Major Ruiz reported to Company L, 3d Battalion, 4th Marines to serve as the Company
First Sergeant. He subsequently deployed to Afghanistan in support of OEF. Following the end of his first tour, Sergeant Major Ruiz was assigned to Headquarters and Service Company and completed a second tour to Afghanistan.
His personal awards include the Bronze Star Medal with gold star, Meritorious Service Medal with two gold stars, Navy Commendation with gold star, Navy Achievement with gold star, Army Achievement with bronze cluster, and the Combat Action Ribbon.
In June 2012, Sergeant Major Ruiz received orders to Inspector Instructor Staff, Sacramento, California to serve as
Inspector-Instructor First Sergeant. Upon his selection to Sergeant Major, he received orders to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines.
Sergeant Major Ruiz’s personal awards include the Bronze Star Medal with combat distinguishing device, Navy Commendation Medal with two gold stars, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with one gold star, and the Combat
Action Ribbon with one gold star.
3/5 STAFF NCOs
DRAGON BOAT RACES
ABOARD THE USS PELELIU
PANCAKE SOCIAL AT USO
LOCKED AND LOADED ON THE PELELIU
CROW VALLEY, THE PHILIPPINES
CAAT 1 PLATOON
CAAT 2 PLATOON
1st Lt Graves
Company Executive Officer
First Sergeant Charlie
Gunnery Sergeant Barthold
Company Gunnery Sergeant
TRAINING ON OKI
TERNATE, THE PHILIPPINES
Germantown Boat Ops
BZO On THE DECK
Palawan boat raid
USS PELELIU, THE PHILIPPINES
USS PELELIU OPS
USS GERMANTOWN OPS
CROW VALLEY LIVE FIRE
Lieutenant Colonel Eric C. Malinowski
LtCol Malinowski received his commission as a second lieutenant in the United
States Marine Corps in August 1995 after graduating from Officer Candidates
Course (OCC) in Quantico, Virginia. Upon completing The Basic School and
the Marine Corps’ Logistics Officers Course, he reported to 2d Marine Division
in Camp Lejeune. From July 1996-June 1999, LtCol Malinowski served as the
Maintenance Management Officer, Assistant S-4 and S-4 Officer for 2d Light
Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.
In June 1999, LtCol Malinowski transferred to 2d Force Service Support Group
(2d FSSG) and served as the S-4 Officer for 8th Motor Transport Battalion. In
November 1999, he was reassigned within 2d FSSG, joining the MEU Service
Support Group-26 (MSSG-26) and deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) as the MSSG-26 Operations Officer. In February 2001,
LtCol Malinowski returned to 2d FSSG and completed his tour as the Assistant
Operations Officer for 2d Transportation Support Battalion.
From June 2001 until May 2002, LtCol Malinowski was a student at the Marine Corps’ Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, Virginia.
Upon completion of school, LtCol Malinowski served as the Inspector-Instructor (I&I) for Charlie Company, 4th Landing Support Battalion, 4th FSSG in
Charleston, South Carolina, from May 2002 until August 2005. During this
tour, LtCol Malinowski deployed to Kuwait in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF).
From August 2005 until August 2006, LtCol Malinowski served as a G-4 Operations and Plans Officer, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing,
III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF) in Okinawa, Japan. Remaining on Okinawa, he served as the S-4 Officer for the 31st
Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU) from August 2006 until August 2008.
From September 2008 until March 2009, LtCol Malinowski deployed to OIF as an individual augment and served as a US Marine
Forces Central Command (MARCENT) Liaison to Multi-National Forces-Iraq (MNF-I), CJ1/4/8 Directorate in Camp Victory,
Baghdad. Returning to Okinawa, LtCol Malinowski completed his overseas tour in the III MEF G-3.
In July 2009, LtCol Malinowski reported as a student at the School of Advanced Warfighting in Quantico, Virginia. Upon graduation in June 2010, he reported to Marine Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia as a USCENTCOM Regional Planner in the
G-3/5/7. From February to September 2011, LtCol Malinowski deployed to OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) as a
Future Operations Planner for II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) and Regional Command Southwest (RC(SW)) in Helmand
Province, Afghanistan. Returning to Marine Forces Command, LtCol Malinowski became the G-3/5/7’s lead planner for the USPACOM Region.
From July 2013 to May 2014, LtCol Malinowski served at the Pentagon with Headquarters Marine Corps, Installation & Logistics,
Logistics Plans and Operations Branch (LPO).
LtCol Malinowski assumed command of Combat Logistic Battalion 31 on June 13, 2014.
LtCol Malinowski obtained his undergraduate degree from The Citadel, graduating in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts in History, and
has a Masters in Operational Studies from the Marine Corps University. He is married to the former Ms Clare Alyce Lora of San
Antonio, Texas. Personal decorations include a Meritorious Service Medal (with two gold stars), the Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal (with two gold stars) and the Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
Sergeant Major Max A. Garcia
CLB-31 SERGEANT MAJOR
Sergeant Major Max A. Garcia enlisted in 1994 in Baltimore, Maryland
and attended recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina. After
completing Amphibious Assault Vehicle Crewman School in Camp
Pendleton, California Private First Class Garcia was assigned to 2nd
Assault Amphibian Battalion Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in March
After completing a tour of duty, including two Mediterranean deployments, Sergeant Garcia reported to Drill Instructor School at Parris
Island South Carolina. In January of 2000, Sergeant Garcia was assigned to India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion as a Drill
Instructor and Senior Drill Instructor. Staff Sergeant Garcia also served
as a Physical Conditioning Platoon Drill Instructor for Special Training
After a successful tour at Parris Island in 2002, Staff Sergeant Garcia
received orders to 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion Camp Pendleton,
California where he was assigned as a Section Leader. As a Section
Leader he completed two deployments in support of Operation ENDURING/IRAQI FREEDOM. His tour was completed in March of 2006 when he was selected for Assistant Marine
Officer Instructor Duty.
Gunnery Sergeant Garcia was assigned as the Assistant Marine Officer Instructor at the University of South Florida.
Upon arrival to Tampa, Florida Gunnery Sergeant Garcia received orders to Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia for duty as a Drill Instructor Augment. He reported for this temporary duty during the summer of 2006 and again
in 2007. In the summer of 2008 Gunnery Sergeant Garcia worked temporarily as a Drill Instructor for midshipmen
training in Camp Pendleton, California.
In April 2009 First Sergeant Garcia received orders to report to CLC-16 to assume post as Company First Sergeant and
augmented a year later to CLR-15 Forward for deployment to Afghanistan. In 2012 he received orders to FAST Company Europe in Rota, Spain.
Sergeant Major Garcia was promoted to his current rank in June 2014 and reported to Combat Logistics Battalion 31,
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit for duty as the Battalion Sergeant Major.
Sergeant Major Garcia’s personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with 2 gold stars and
combat “V”, the Navy Commendation Medal with gold star, and the Combat Action Ribbon.
Chaplain and RP
OIC: Lt. Mamangun
S-1 Chief: GySgt Trader
S-2 Chief: SSgt Bowers
OIC: Major Villarreal
S-3 Chief: MSgt Kelly
OIC: Capt. James
S-4 Chief: GySgt Castillo
OIC: 1st Lt. Hatcher
OIC: 1st Lt. Hernandez
Supply Chief: GySgt Johnson
MP Chief: SSgt Torres
Motor T OIC: 1st Lt. Murray Motor T Chief: GySgt. Weise
OIC: LCDR Chavez
Chief: HMC Guckeyson
OIC: CWO2 Antoine
Chief: MSgt Huerta
Engineer OIC: 1st Lt. Register
Engineer Chief: GySgt. Weiss
LS OIC: 1st Lt. Snyder
LS Chief: SSgt Austin
OIC: 1st Lt. Moore
Chief: SSgt Mihely
OIC: 1st Lt. Chenowetbh
Chief: SSgt. Finegan
MCMAP ON SHIP
PHIBLEX 2014 PHILIPPINES
CG VISITS CAMP
Lieutenant Colonel Larry G. Brown
VMM-262 COMMANDING Officer
LtCol Brown was born in Edinburgh, TX on 15 Feb 1970. He graduated from
Fredericksburg Texas High School in 1989 and attended Norwich University,
earning a Bachelors of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant through the PLC program in 1994. His military
education includes, The Basic School, Naval Flight Training, Aviation Safety
Officers School, Joint Multi-Engine Flight Instructor Training Course, MV22 Instructor Pilot Training Course, and Joint Air Operations Command &
Upon completion of The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia, LtCol Brown
reported to MATSG Pensacola in May 1995 for flight training and was designated a Naval Aviator in August 1997. Subsequently, LtCol Brown reported to
HMT-204, MCAS New River, NC for training in the CH-46E. LtCol Brown
reported to MAG-16, MCAS Tustin CA in February 1998 and was assigned
to HMM-161. While assigned to the Greyhawks LtCol Brown deployed
with the 13th MEU (SOC) from September 00 through February 01. LtCol
Brown participated in Humanitarian Assistance Operations in East Timor, and
OPERATION Determined Response in Yemen. Upon return from deployment
LtCol Brown was selected for transition to the MV-22 and was subsequently
transferred to MAG-16.
Later that same year, LtCol Brown was transferred to HMM-165 and again deployed with the 13th MEU (SOC) from December
01 through July 02. While deployed, LtCol Brown participated in OPERATION Enduring Freedom. LtCol Brown then deployed
again with the White Knights as part of I MEF from January 03 through July 03 for OPERATION Iraqi Freedom. Upon returning
from Iraq, LtCol Brown was transferred to 3d MAW where he served as Aide-de-Camp from July 03 through July 04.
In July of 04 LtCol Brown was assigned to MATSG-22, CTW-4, VT-35, NAS Corpus Christi TX where stood up the TC-12 Tiltrotor training curriculum for the MV-22 training pipeline. While assigned to VT-35 LtCol Brown participated in Humanitarian
Assistance Operations New Orleans, LA. During his time with the Stingrays LtCol Brown was the project manager for the Pilot For
A Day (PFAD) program. PFAD is a program for critically and catastrophically ill children in partnership with Driscoll Children’s
In July of 06 LtCol Brown was transferred to VMMT-204 in New River, NC where he served as a MV-22 Instructor Pilot. In June
of 08 LtCol Brown was transferred to VMM-263 and deployed with the first MV-22 MEU ACE. While deployed with the 22nd
MEU LtCol Brown participated in the delivery of the first 10 MV-22s into Afghanistan.
In August of 2010 LtCol Brown was transferred to HQ MAG-26 to serve as the Executive Officer. In September of 2010 LtCol
Brown was assigned as the Future Operations Officer, 2D MAW (FWD) for OPERATION Enduring Freedom 11.1/2, Afghanistan.
In October of 2011 LtCol Brown was transferred to MAG-16, MCAS Miramar, CA and served as the MV-22 Tactical Training Unit
OIC. In June of 2012 LtCol Brown was assigned as the MAG-16 Executive Officer. He assumed his current position on May 22,
LtCol Brown’s personal decorations include the Bronze Star, Individual Action Air Medal with Combat “V” and gold star in lieu of
second award, Air Medal - Strike Flight with Numeral 5, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with gold star in lieu
of second award, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Medal.
Sergeant Major Devon A. Lee
VMM-262 SERGEANT MAJOR
Sergeant Major Lee enlisted in the Marine Corps on July 14, 1993 and underwent recruit training with Company F, 2nd Battalion, MCRD Parris Island,
South Carolina. Upon completion of recruit training, he attended Marine Combat Training at Camp Geiger, North Carolina. Upon completion he attended
the Basic Radio Operators Course at 29 Palms, California and was assigned the
MOS 2531. Upon completion of training, he was assigned to Okinawa, Japan
for duty with 3rd Intel Company, 3rd Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Intelligence Group from March 1994 until March 1997. During this tour he served
as a Radio Operator, Remote Ground Sensor Operator and Platoon Sergeant.
He deployed to South Korea, the Philippines and Alaska. He was meritoriously
promoted to Sergeant on August 2, 1996.
In March 1997, Sergeant Major Lee attended Drill Instructor School at MCRD
Parris Island, South Carolina. Upon completion of school, he was assigned to
3rd Recruit Training Battalion where he served in the billets of Drill Instructor and Senior Drill Instructor. He also served as an Academics Instructor with
In May 2000, Sergeant Major Lee was assigned to Officer Candidates School
where he served in the billets of Sergeant Instructor, Platoon Sergeant, Battalion
Training Chief, Drill Master, and Operations Chief. He also held the collateral
duty as CGIP Inspector for Marine Corps Base Quantico. He was meritoriously promoted to Gunnery Sergeant on January 2, 2003.
In May 2004, Sergeant Major Lee was assigned to Communications Company, 3rd Force Service Support Group where he served as
the Operations Chief. During this tour he deployed in support of OPERATION UNIFIED ASSIANTACE. In May 2005, Sergeant
Major Lee was assigned to MEU Service Support Group-31, 31st MEU, where he served as the Communication Chief. During this
tour he deployed in support of the humanitarian efforts in the 2006 SOUTHERN LEYTE, PHILIPPINES MUDSLIDES.
In June 2006, Sergeant Major Lee was assigned to Company C, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division
were he served as the Company First Sergeant. During this tour he deployed in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. In
December 2007, he was assigned to Headquarters and Service Company and deployed in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM for a second time.
In June 2009, Sergeant Major Lee was assigned to MCRD San Diego, where he served as Company First Sergeant for Co D, 1st
Recruit Training Battalion and Battalion Sergeant Major for 3rd Recruit Training Battalion.
In June 2011, Sergeant Major Lee was assigned to 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion and served as the Inspector-Instructor Sergeant Major. During this tour he served as a board member on the FY12 MSgt-SgtMaj selection board.
In June 2013, he was assigned to his current post as the HMM-262, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Sergeant Major.
His personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal(gold stat in lieu of second award), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (two gold stars in lieu of third award), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three gold stars in lieu of fourth
hangin’ IN THE hanger
Cpl. Ryan Leaston
Cpl. Jesus Luna
UNDER THE HOOD
clark air base
Peleliu flight ops
Lieutenant Colonel James A. Schnelle
VMA-542 COMMANDING Officer
Lieutenant Colonel Jay Schnelle was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in May1993
from the United States Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. Second Lieutenant Schnelle graduated from The Basic School on the Commanding General’s Honors Roll in December 1993. After training at VT-6 in Milton,
Florida, VT-23 in Meridian, Mississippi, and VT-22 in Kingsville, Texas, First Lieutenant
Schnelle was designated a Naval Aviator in March 1996.
In July 1997, after AV-8B Harrier Fleet Replacement Pilot training completion at
VMAT-203, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, 1stLt Schnelle
reported to Marine Air Group 13, MCAS Yuma, Arizona and was promoted to Captain.
He served with VMA-513 from July 1997 to July 2000. From June to December 1998
he deployed with HMM-163(Reinforced), 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
Captain Schnelle attended the Aviation Safety Officers Course in Monterey, California
in May 1999. From January to July 2000, he deployed to Okinawa, Japan in support of
HMM-262(Rein), 31st MEU. While assigned to VMA-513, Captain Schnelle held the
billets of Aviation Safety Officer, Administrative Officer, and CMCC Officer. In July
2000, Captain Schnelle reported to work as the MAG-13 Aviation Safety Officer.
From January 2001 until March 2002, Captain Schnelle was assigned to the Third
Marine Aircraft Wing G-3 Operations Department at MCAS Miramar, California as
the Fixed-Wing Frag Officer and Fixed-Wing Operations Inspector on the Commanding
General’s Inspection Team.
In March 2002, Captain Schnelle reported to VMA-214, MAG-13, MCAS Yuma, where
he served as the Pilot Training Officer. He deployed to Iwakuni, Japan from July 2002
until June 2003 in support of MAG-12 and HMM-262(Rein), 31st MEU. In November 2002, he was promoted to Major. While in Japan, Major
Schnelle worked as the Detachment Operations Officer and as the HMM-262(Rein) Future Operations Officer. Upon return to CONUS in July
2003, he reported to VMA-211. Major Schnelle earned the Weapons Tactics Instructor (WTI) designation in October 2003, subsequently serving
as the Assistant Operations Officer and Squadron WTI. From January until July 2004, Major Schnelle served as the Aviation Maintenance Officer
and Squadron WTI.
In July 2004, Major Schnelle deployed as the VMA-211 Detachment Officer-in-Charge (OIC) to Iwakuni, Japan in support of MAG-12 and
HMM-265(Rein), 31st MEU. While attached to the 31st MEU, he deployed to Al Asad, Iraq from August 2004 until February 2005. While
forward deployed, Major Schnelle acted as the Assistant Operations Officer and for a time as the Operations Officer of HMM-265(Rein). Upon
return to CONUS in March 2005, Major Schnelle worked as the MAG-13 Standardization Officer.
In May 2005, Major Schnelle reported to 3d Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) in Long Beach, California. As the 3d ANGLICO
Assistant Inspector-Instructor, Maj Schnelle acted as the Operations Officer, Air Officer, and senior Forward Air Controller, participating in Joint
and Combined Force training operations and exercises in Morocco, Scotland, Egypt, and Thailand, as well as several CONUS Combined Arms and
Tactical Air Control Party training exercises.
Major Schnelle reported to the Marine Corps University, Quantico, Virginia in July 2007. In June 2008, Major Schnelle received a Masters in
Military Science as a Distinguished Graduate of the Command and Staff College. Subsequently, Major Schnelle reported to the Chief of Naval
Operations Air Warfare Division (N88) to work as the AV-8B Harrier Resource and Requirements Officer (N8804), Expeditionary Air Warfare and
acted as the N88 Joint Close Air Support and Digital Interoperability Action Officer. In November 2008, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
In July 2010, Lieutenant Colonel Schnelle reported to Marine Aircraft Group 14, MCAS Cherry Point, NC, and was assigned to VMA-231 as
the Executive Officer. In December 2010, Lieutenant Colonel Schnelle reported to 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) as the G-3/5 Plans Officer. 2d MAW(Fwd) deployed to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan from February 2011 until March 2012. Upon return, Lieutenant Colonel Schnelle
reported to MAG-14 to act as the MAG-14 Personnel Support Detachment Commanding Officer, AV-8B Readiness Officer, and MAG Training
Landing Signals Officer.
Lieutenant Colonel Schnelle has over 1,450 flight hours in the AV-8B Harrier, with advance flight qualifications of Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI), Mission Commander (MC), Air Combat Tactics Instructor (ACTI), Night Systems Instructor (NSI), Low Altitude Tactics Instructor (LATI), Weapons Training Officer (WTO) and Training Landing Signals Officer (TLSO). His personal decorations include the Meritorious
Service Medal (fourth award), Air Medal (third award), and Navy Achievement Medal (third award).
Sergeant Major Mario P. Fields
VMA-542 SERGEANT MAJOR
SgtMaj Fields enlisted in the Marine Corps on 3 August 1993. He attended
recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. He was
selected as the Company Honor Graduate for 2nd Recruit Training Battalion,
Company G, and was meritoriously promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal.
After completing recruit training, LCpl Fields reported to Marine Combat
Training (MCT) at Camp Geiger, NC. Upon graduating from MCT, he attended Personnel Administration School at Camp Johnson, NC.
In April 1994, LCpl Fields reported for duty with Marine Aviation Training
Support Group (MATSG) Naval Air Station, Pensacola, FL. While assigned
there from April 1994 - March 1997, LCpl Fields was promoted to Corporal in
January 1995, selected as MATSG’s 1994 Marine of the Year, and was meritoriously promoted to Sergeant in August 1996.
In June 1997, Sgt Fields reported to Marine Corps Security Force Battalion,
Marine Detachment (MARDET), USS George Washington CVN-73 for
sea duty. While on sea duty, he deployed to the Persian Gulf participating in
Operation SOUTHERN WATCH and the build-up for Operation DESERT
THUNDER. With the disestablishments of MARDETs afloat, Sgt Fields was
reassigned to Marine Security Force Training Company, Chesapeake, VA in May
In June 1999, Sgt Fields reported for Drill Instructor duty at Marine Corps
Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. where he served with Echo Company, 2nd
Recruit Training Battalion. During this tour, Sgt Fields held the billets of Drill
Instructor, Senior Drill Instructor, Series Gunnery Sergeant, Company Operations Chief, Company First Sergeant, and the Staff
Noncommissioned Officer of Academics Testing. He was promoted to Staff Sergeant in November 2000 and meritoriously to Gunnery Sergeant in January 2003.
In January 2003, GySgt Fields reported for duty with Marine Corps Historical Center, Washington Naval Yard, Washington, DC.
He held the billets of Administration Chief, Administration Officer-in-Charge and served as the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the
Operations Officer and Director. In April 2004, he was reassigned to Headquarters Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion,
HQMC, Henderson Hall as the Company Gunnery Sergeant until his selection and frocking to First Sergeant in December 2005.
In January 2006, 1stSgt Fields reported to 3rd Marine Logistics Group and served as a Company First Sergeant for Communications Company and Headquarters Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 37, and Engineer Support Company, 9th Engineer Support Battalion. He also served as Battalion Sergeant Major, Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. During
this tour, 1stSgt Fields deployed to Australia, the Republic of the Philippines, the Republic of Cambodia, and Iraq in support of
Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
In July 2009, 1stSgt Fields reported to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines for duty as Weapons Company First Sergeant where he deployed
from August 2010 through May 2011 with Battalion Landing Team 3/8, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. During this deployment,
1stSgt Fields supported Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in the Gulf of Aden, Djibouti, Africa, and combat operations securing
route 611 in the Upper Gereshk Valley, Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was promoted to SgtMaj in July 2011.
In July 2011, SgtMaj Fields posted as the Squadron Sergeant Major for Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing. In February 2013, SgtMaj Fields posted as the Squadron Sergeant Major for Marine Attack Squadron 542, 2d Marine
His personal decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (second award), Navy and
Marine Corps Achievement Medal (fourth award), Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (sixth award), and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal. SgtMaj Fields earned an Associates of Science degree in Business Management from Park University in
mAINTAIN IN THE BAY
U.S. Marines with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit
(31st MEU) and Soldiers from the Western Army Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) conduct boat operations as part of the Japan Observer Exchange Program on Kin Blue,
Okinawa, 11 July, 2014. The JGSDF was integrated with the 31st MEU in order to better
understand amphibious operations. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by GySgt Ismael Pena)
Col. Romin Dasmalchi, commanding officer of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st
MEU), addresses Marines assigned to the 31st MEU at an all-hands call aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5). Peleliu is on its final scheduled deployment to the
western Pacific region in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and
stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region before decommissioning early next year. (U.S. Navy
photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan J. Batchelder)
Marines with the Maritime Raid Force, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, fast rope
out of a Navy MH-60S Seahawk onto the USS Peleliu (LHA-5) for a Visit, Board,
Search and Seizure during Certification Exercise (CERTEX), Sept. 24, 2014. CERTEX is the final evaluation of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit/Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group prior to their regularly-scheduled Fall Patrol of the Asia-Pacific region.
(U.S. Marine photo by Lance Cpl. Robert Williams)
U.S. Marines with Company I, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 5th
Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conduct training with Amphibian
Assault Vehicles as part of Amphibious Integration Training (AIT) at sea,
Sept 3, 2014. The Marines are conducting AIT aboard the USS Peleliu LHA5. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Richard Currier)
U.S. Marines observe explosives detonate from a safe distance on a demolitions range
at Crow Valley, the Philippines, during Amphibious Landing Exercise 15, Oct. 8. The
Marines are with Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine
Expeditionary Unit. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph DiGirolamo)
U.S. Marines with Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st
Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducts marksmanship training on the flight
deck as part of Amphibious Integration Training aboard the USS Peleliu, out
at sea, Sept. 07, 2014. The Marines conduct training in order to maintain their
marksmanship skills. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by GySgt Ismael Pena)
A long-exposure photo depicts an MV-22B Osprey on the flight line during nighttime operations for Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) 15 at Clark Air
Base, Sept. 29, 2014. The aircraft is with Marine Medium Tiltroter Squadron 262
(Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, as part of 3rd Marine Expeditionary
Brigade. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph DiGirolamo)
U.S. Marines load onto CH-53E Super Stallions during Amphibious Landing Exercise 15 at Crow Valley, the Philippines, Oct. 2, 2014. The Marines are
with 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment and the aircraft are with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
(U.S. Marine photo by Lance Cpl. Robert Williams Jr.)
Marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) depart the well
deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) in Combat Rubber Raiding Crafts (CRRC) during the Amphibious Landing Exercise
(PHIBLEX)15. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman