USS IWO JIMA, At Sea - Marines and Sailors with the 24th
Marine Expeditionary Unit caught their first glimpse of what
their life will consist of while deployed aboard the USS Iwo
Jima, USS New York, or the USS Fort McHenry, during
Amphibious Squadron/ Marine Expeditionary Unit Integration,
or PMINT, August 6-13, 2014.
PMINT is the MEU's
second major pre-deployment exercise and is intended to get
the servicemembers accustom to operations and everyday life
Marines and Sailors disembark a Landing Craft Air Cushion, or LCAC, from the USS Iwo Jima's Assault Craft Unit 4, during a tactical offload of 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit personnel and equipment at Onslow Beach, N.C., August 12, 2014. The offload was part of Amphibious Squadron/Marine Expeditionary Unit Integration, the second major exercise for the 24th MEU. The USS Iwo Jima is part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Mary M. Carmona)
“The purpose of PMINT is really a
two-part answer,” said Maj. Tyler Holland, 24th MEU
assistant operations officer. “First, it's for the MEU
Marines and Sailors to familiarize themselves with the ship,
and understand - and practice – [shipboard] customs and
courtesies. It's also designed for the MEU and PHIBRON
staffs to come together and conduct planning ... and to
solidify the relationships that are instrumental for the
success of our mission once deployed.”
PMINT is the
first part of the “crawl, walk, run” idea with the Navy and
Marine Corps integration. It not only allowed the most
senior ranking officials to work together, but also the
Marines and Sailors to work closely with the administrative,
intelligence, supply, and communication shops.
took PMINT as an exercise to get us familiar with ship life
and working conditions, [while] working side by side with
the Navy,” said Lance Cpl. Robert M. Rivers, a data network
specialist with the 24th MEU's Command Element. “On a daily
basis we were extremely busy; on average we had 16-hour
The adjustments needed to working and
living on the USS Iwo Jima versus Camp Lejeune forced the
Marines to keep a strong mindset.
“You have to
maintain a confident mindset in a new place. Just reminding
myself that I know everything and not to let the
surroundings affect me,” said Rivers, a Laurel, Mississippi
native. Rivers said PMINT allowed him to get familiar with
the ins-and-outs of working on ship and actually enjoyed
some advantages it provided.
“What PMINT taught me
was extremely important for going forward and I feel more
confident in my abilities to work alongside the Navy on the
ship,” said Rivers. “I actually like working on ship.
Everything is closer ... if I needed to go to any specific
office, it was right there. It's like a small community.”
Working on the internal ship problems was not the only
difficulties the Marines and Sailors faced and had to
conquer while aboard the ship. Getting familiar with drills
and daily ship life was something they had to overcome.
All four elements within the MEU conducted training.
Maritime Raid Force with the Command Element conducted a
Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure exercise. The Ground
Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 6th
Marine Regiment conducted two raids. The Combat Logistics
Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 24 conducted
non-combatant evacuation operation drills.
Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365
(Reinforced) conducted day and night flight operations,
specifically focusing on carrier deck qualifications and
support to the entire Marine Air-Ground Task Force. The Navy
stood busy conducting Landing Craft, Air Cushioned vehicle
operations every day and flight operations, among other
A popular adjustment for the Marines on ship
was getting used to their sleeping quarters.
as ship life, adjusting to the sleeping quarters was a
challenge. I would put my heels on the foot of the bed and
my toes were scraping the ceiling,” added Rivers with a
chuckle, referring to the confined berthing spaces.
To complete PMINT the 24th MEU Marines and Sailors conducted
a tactical offload. The MAGTF used all elements to storm
Onslow Beach, North Carolina.
“The intent of this
tactical offload was to test our procedures to debarkation
of the ship as well as identifying procedures that can help
expedite accountability and timely launch of landing craft
from ship to shore,” said Capt. Ricardo B. Rivera, the 24th
MEU embarkation officer. “In addition, it forced the unit to
identify C2 shortfalls and strengths while transitioning
from command on ship to command ashore.”
The Iwo Jima
Amphibious Ready Group deployed LCACs loaded with amphibious
assault vehicles, Light Armored Vehicles, and Humvees before
“The tactical offload is the
intentional build-up of forces ashore in a phased manner
from ship-to-shore that incorporates combat power with
logistical sustainability with the added flexibility of
calling forces ashore or change the plan if the situation
changes ashore,” said Rivera, a Bronx, New York, native.
“The next phase is to prepare the beach for landing with
naval gun fire ashore, followed by the Assault Wave -
consisting of AAVs - to secure the beach head, push forward,
and establish the perimeter to allow the scheduled waves to
The battalion landing team established a
perimeter and conducted security before the rest of the
offload could continue. Once the beach was secured, Rivera
explained, the rest of the landing craft, along with armored
vehicles, came ashore and conducted embarkation to the
landing force objective area or command post.
More photos available below
By U.S. Marine Corps LCpl. Joey Mendez and Sgt. Devin Nichols
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