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Hard work, long hours keep AAV platoon afloat

US Marine Corps News

By Cpl. Garry J. Welch, 31st MEU

CAMP SCHWAB, OKINAWA, Japan -- Amphibious Assault Vehicles are the tip of the spear in amphibious operations. They allow Marines to move from ship to shore quickly and deliver more than 10 combat ready Marines from each vehicle.

Marines of the Amphibious Assault Vehicle Platoon, Company B, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, worked for more than three months to ensure their equipment and vehicles were ready for operations with the MEU.

The Marines worked 12 hour per day, seven days a week, to scrape rust off the hulls, repair weapon stations, replace track blocks and ensure all 14 vehicles were in top shape.

“Before the main body got here our advance party had a lot of work to do,” said Gunnery Sgt. James W. Lochner, the platoon Sgt of AAV Platoon.

Once the main body of the AAV platoon arrived, they too began to work on the vehicles, often late into the night and through the weekends.

“We had to replace 580 track blocks because the old ones were worn out,” said Sgt. Jesse M. Johnson, the maintenance chief of AAV platoon. “This was not an easy task because in order to replace the blocks; we had to take the tracks completely off the vehicles.”

Another major part of the workload was ensuring the vehicles remained watertight. This is important because if the AAV’s cannot maintain their watertight integrity, they would not have the ability to move from ship to shore.

“We had to do all this maintenance on the weapon systems and ensure the AAV’s can float because if we can’t shoot and we can’t move, we can’t get the job done,” said Lochner.

On January 26, when the platoon had to get aboard the USS Tortuga, all 14 AAV’s were fully combat ready and ready to support the 31st MEU.

“I am proud of what the Marines accomplished with the time and materials they had to work with,” said Johnson. “You really can’t ask for anymore than that.”

The platoon is aboard the USS Tortuga and ready to participate in Exercise Cobra Gold 2012, in the Kingdom of Thailand. CG12 demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

“The Marines are chomping at the bit to go, and they are ready to leave Okinawa to start touring the Pacific and execute our mission,” said Lt. Col. Kevin A. Norton, the commanding officer of BLT 1/4, 31st MEU.

The 31st MEU is the only continually forward-deployed MEU, and remains the nation's force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

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