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15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Camp Pendleton, CA
Retrograde: 15th MEU makes final logistical arrangements, heads home

By Sgt. John Robbart III | 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit | May 09, 2013

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A UH-1N Huey with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), flies past the USS Rushmore, March 29, 2013. The 15th MEU is deployed as part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group as a U.S. Central Command theatre reserve force, providing support for maritime security operations and theatre security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Bobby J. Gonzalez/Released)

A UH-1N Huey with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), flies past the USS Rushmore, March 29, 2013. The 15th MEU is deployed as part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group as a U.S. Central Command theatre reserve force, providing support for maritime security operations and theatre security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Bobby J. Gonzalez/Released) (Photo by Cpl. Bobby J. Gonzalez)


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USS PELELIU, At Sea -- The 15th MEU logistics team works around the clock in order to move the personnel, cargo and equipment from the three ships of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group to their respective origins, making for a seamless transition from being forward-deployed to garrison life.

The planning process began about a month ago and involves several Marines, including the MEU logistics officer, the mobility/embarkation officer, the unit movement control coordinator, landing force shore party, Assault Craft Units 1 and 5 and the unit’s aviation combat element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364 (Rein.).

Major Brodie R. Carmichael, logistics officer, 15th MEU, from Yakima, Wash., is on his second deployment with the unit. His role in the retrograde is to oversee all logistical movement within the MEU. 

He is assisted in his duties by the other members of the logistics team on ship as well as advance parties sent to Camp Pendleton at different stages of the deployment to conduct pre-coordination.

“This offload involves a lot more than just getting on a craft,” said Carmichael. “There are a lot of coordinating instructions that we have been working on since the end of March. This is the largest evolution to date for the entire MEU, as we are moving all 15th MEU passengers and vehicles.”

The next key player in the role of a retrograde is Capt. Peter D. Nelson, the unit’s mobility and embarkation officer. Nelson, 36, is from Hilham, Tenn., and has worked in embarkation for nearly 18 years. 

He and his Marines plan and oversee the movement of all cargo and equipment from ship to shore. This may sound complex, but the complexity doesn’t end at the initial planning. Nelson’s taskings for coordinating this movement includes ensuring all 15th MEU personnel are off the boat on the designated day.

“We have a lot of cargo, equipment and personnel we are trying to off load in one day,” said Nelson. “The personnel are our number one priority though. With limited space on ship (and) all of the vehicles moving around on the ship, we wanted to move the people ashore first.”

In order to accomplish these tasks, the mobility team has planned to move the equipment back in waves. They define a wave as one rotation of landing craft from the ship to the beach. USS Peleliu has four landing craft utilities that, when empty, can hold up to 290 people. For the majority of the rotations, the LCUs will carry both personnel and vehicles. 

“Time is our most expensive resource here,” he added. “Everyone wants to be home and it will take a lot of time to get there. I am confident everyone will be with their families by the end of the night.”

Everyone includes 931 personnel from USS Peleliu, approximately 650 people from USS Green Bay and 335 from USS Rushmore. All of these people will be moved ashore in a more than 12-hour operation.
USS Green Bay and USS Rshmore each have two landing craft air cushions, and USS Green Bay also has 15 amphibious assault vehicles scheduled to return during the retrograde.

After Nelson’s team has planned the debarkation of all equipment and cargo from ship to shore, the landing force shore party unloads it for transport to its final destination. 

Marines with Landing Support Detachment, Combat Logistics 15, 15th MEU, coordinate the movement on the ground for an easy offload. This process involves supervising the movement of cargo and equipment to its respective location.

Once the vehicles are offloaded, unit movement control centers at each major subordinate element of the MEU report their accountability of personnel, vehicles and gear to the 15th MEU’s logistics team on Camp Pendleton.

In addition to vehicles and personnel returning home, all of the aircraft will be flown off  on the final day.

The 15th MEU is scheduled to return home after nearly eight months at-sea while serving as part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group and is comprised of approximately 2,400 Marines and sailors. Together with Amphibious Squadron Three, they provide a forward-deployed, flexible sea-based Marine Air Ground Task Force capable of conducting a wide variety of operations ranging from humanitarian aid to combat.