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Forward Deployed ARG Departs Guam

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS060215-04
Release Date: 2/15/2006 12:49:00 PM

By Journalist 3rd Class Adam R. Cole, Commander, Amphibious Force, U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

ABOARD USS ESSEX, Guam (NNS) -- The Forward Deployed Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) completed the backload of personnel, equipment and supplies for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) after the completion of Training in an Urban Environment Exercise (TRUEX) and departed Guam Feb. 12.

During the backload, Landing Craft Utility (LCU) vessels from Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 1 Detachment Western Pacific and Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) from Assualt Craft Unit (ACU) 5 Detachment Western Pacific brought on vital Marine assets like 7-ton trucks, humvees and M198 Howitzers back aboard the ARG ships. The reverse procedure, the offload, was conducted upon the ARG’s arrival to Guam Jan. 24.

The Forward Deployed ARG ships consisting of USS Essex (LHD 2), USS Juneau (LPD 10) and USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) is now host once again to 1,900 Marines of the 31st MEU spread among the three ships.

“Once again, we have demonstrated the responsiveness and flexibility of the ships that make up the Forward Deployed ARG,” said Capt. Mark E. Donahue, commodore, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11, task group commander of the Forward Deployed ARG. “We seamlessly executed the embarkation, movement and debarkation of the 31st MEU for TRUEX and just as flawlessly completed the backload, so this dynamic Blue-Green team can carry out its next mission.”

While the Marines were in Guam executing TRUEX, the ships of the Forward Deployed ARG utilized the time to conduct valuable at-sea proficiency training in a number of mission areas, including air defense, engineering, damage control, seamanship, force protection and communications.

One combined training evolution was conducted between Juneau and Fox Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine, who teamed up for a successful simulated beach raid.

“Well deck evolutions are what we do best,” said Lt. Zeverick Butts, Juneau’s 1st lieutenant, whose deck team certified in Amphibious Specialty Training (AST) in late January. “I trust these Sailors’ deep experience in what they do and count on them to continue evolution after evolution. They never let me down and certainly won’t let the MEU down.”

In between training, both Sailors and Marines volunteered for community service projects and participated in social activities.

Juneau Sailors and members of ACU 1 Western Pacific Detachment worked on minor renovation and maintenance at a Guam elementary school in Yona Jan. 28. The two groups of Sailors conducted a similar community service project Feb. 11 at assisted living homes for physically and mentally challenged individuals in Mangilao.

Marines and Sailors with the MEU Service Support Group (MSSG) 31 volunteered at the South Christian Academy Feb. 4 by removing debris from the roof and interacting with the students.

“I saw this as a good way to give back a little something to Guam for what they give to us as guests on their island,” said Damage Controlman 3rd Class Marcus Perez after the event at the Guam public school, M.U.Lujan Elementary School. “It was an awesome experience!”

Sailors and Marines also participated with the Guam community in events that fostered friendship and also gave Guam community members an opportunity to learn about military service.

The 31st MEU celebrated the successful completion of TRUEX Feb. 7 with a “Marine Day” exhibition in cooperation with the Guam chapter of the 3rd Marine Division Association at Asan Beach’s War in the Pacific National Historic Park. The special Marine Day showcased to the local community the aircraft, vehicles and weaponry used in the exercise and allowed community members to ask questions to military members.

“Overall, I was very impressed by the hospitality extended to the Sailors and Marines by the Guam citizens. Likewise, the conduct and ambassadorship demonstrated by the Sailors and Marines of Forward Deployed ARG and the 31st MEU was superb,” said Donahue. “These men and woman of service exemplify the finest we have.”

The Forward Deployed ARG is part of Task Force 76, the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force, which is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

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