Wednesday, March 30, 2011

USS Whidbey Island Welcomes the 22nd MEU

Sailors assigned to the amphibious dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) man the rails as the ship departs Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort as part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group.
Sailors assigned to the amphibious dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) man the rails as the ship departs Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort as part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group.

MOOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (NNS) -- Marines assigned to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) embarked amphibious dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) March 28 to join Bataan Amphibious Group (ARG) for their deployment.
Led by amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD) 5, the Bataan ARG-MEU deployed ahead of schedule to relieve units attached to the Kearsarge ARG and 26th MEU in the Mediterranean Sea, currently supporting Operation Odyssey Dawn.
"We are proud and excited to be embarking units of 22nd MEU," said Cmdr. Eric Conzen, commanding officer, USS Whidbey Island. "This ship was built for Sailor and Marine integration and it feels like we are just now completing our full crew compliment now that elements from 22 MEU are coming aboard."
Bataan ARG consists of approximately 4,000 Sailors and Marines. The ARG is prepared to conduct a variety of missions, including forward naval presence, maritime security operations, theater security cooperation, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, as directed by Fleet and Joint Task Force commanders.
"We expect to complete whatever tasks we are assigned successfully and come back safe. The ultimate goal is mission accomplishment and troop welfare," said 22nd MEU Gunnery Sgt. Patrick McClung. "I'm excited and happy to be here. This is what we do."
For many Marines, this will be their first time on board a Navy ship.
"This is my first time deploying on a Navy vessel and I think it will be a good learning experience," said 22nd MEU Cpl. Jordan King. "We are all really close and working alongside the Navy is part of heritage and tradition for a Marine. I am excited that we get to open up and form bonds with the crew."
Conzen is confident in the Sailors' and Marines' ability to work together as a unified team and accomplish whatever mission they are called upon to perform.
"The Navy and Marine Corps have been operating together for a long time in the ARG/MEU construct. As a mobile force, we can go almost anywhere we are needed, on short notice," said Conzen. "The 'Blue-Green' team is one of the most flexible tools the U.S. has to use."
Bataan ARG-22 MEU are comprised of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, which includes a Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; and its command element; and the Navy's Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 6, which includes Bataan, Whidbey Island, amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), and detachments from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 22, Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 8, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2, ACU-4 and Naval Beach Group.

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