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BHR's Combat Cargo Keeps Humanitarian Assistance Moving

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050118-03
Release Date: 1/18/2005 11:28:00 AM

By Journalist 3rd Class Ryan Valverde, USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs

ABOARD USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea (NNS) -- Combat Cargo division aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) (BHR) has moved on average almost 100 tons daily of badly needed supplies on and off the multipurpose amphibious assault ship since the beginning of Operation Unified Assistance.

Sixty-four Marines from various elements of 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, attached to Combat Cargo, play a critical role in BHR's well deck, hangar bay and flight deck operations. They are the muscle and sweat behind the scenes of BHR's humanitarian assistance operations. They have been spending countless hours coordinating, loading, offloading and storing humanitarian assistance supplies.

"With Combat Cargo, you take a collection of Navy and Marine Corps personnel and put them together to orchestrate the movement of personnel and material and take it ashore, out in the battlespace, or, in this case, in the humanitarian space," said Capt. J. Scott Jones, commanding officer of the San Diego-based ship. "They move people and materials where they need to go - almost a 100 tons worth a day go through this ship."

According to Combat Cargo's Combat Service Support Chief, Gunnery Sgt. Flan Harrell, "We have moved everything from water, chow and medical supplies. Whatever they needed, if we had it here, we gave it to them. We loaded all the helicopters and LCACs (Landing Craft, Air Cushion) and sent them ashore."

Harrell, a Baton Rouge, La., native, said the mission may have changed, but the mindset throughout Combat Cargo stayed the same.

"The intensity of our mission doesn't change whether we are offloading cargo in Iraq or offloading cargo in Indonesia. This is our job. This is what we trained for," Harrell said. "Now since we are here, the workload doubled, the hours doubled. Not only do we have to execute the plan, we have to stay up and plan out the next day."

Combat Cargo showed its motivation and effort to see each evolution to a successful end, said Harrell.

"I am very proud of them. I always preach to them: be prepared, both mentally and physically, and every one of them stepped up to the plate. Even though the hours were long and some days it was hot and some days it was raining, they still gave 110 percent," Harrell said.

"I'm proud of these Marines," Jones said. "With all the movement of humanitarian relief supplies, quite literally, we are a floating hub like UPS or FedEx."

Bonhomme Richard, with her embarked Marines from the 15th MEU, is currently steaming off the coast of Sumatra in support of Operation Unified Assistance.

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