15th MEU (SOC) completes high-speed backload to Tarawa ARG
By Staff Sgt . Robert Knoll
| | May 8, 2003
ABOARD THE USS TARAWA -- The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable completed its backload to the Tarawa Amphibious Ready Group May 4 after successfully performing combat actions in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The backload, which was completed in just eight days, involved extensive transportation load plans using tractor-trailer vehicles, shipping and aviation assets to complete, according to Staff Sgt. John Morris, embarkation chief.
The embarkation section coordinated the movement of 241 tactical vehicles weighing more than 3.5 million pounds and more than 126,000 pounds of cargo, according to Cpl. Gabriel Munoz, embarkation noncommissioned officer.
The extensive movement of vehicles and equipment required the embarkation section to use vehicles, landing craft and aircraft organic to the 15th MEU, in addition to Army vehicles to help move the cargo.
Before anything could be transported to the ship, it had to be washed of all dirt and debris and inspected to ensure no contamination was accidentally brought back to the United States. A large portion of the backload time was spent washing vehicles and cargo at the Kuwaiti Naval Base and the Camp Doha Army Base in Kuwait.
The 15th MEU will remain in the region for an undetermined period for follow on operations in the Central Command Area of Operations.
The backload came after spending more than a month performing combat operations throughout Southern Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 15th MEU arrived in Kuwait Feb. 12, and was one of the first units into Iraq as part of the ground campaign. The MEU was also one of the first units in Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.
At the start of the war, the 15th MEU began its assault by seizing the port towns of Umm Qasr and Az Zubayr to close enemy supply routes and facilitate the start of humanitarian assistance. Elements of the Battalion Landing Team 2/1 quickly took control of the Old and New Port facilities to allow humanitarian aid to begin flowing into Iraq.
The 15th MEU then shifted to An Nasiriyah where it occupied the Iraqi 11th Infantry Division Compound on the outskirts of the city. They immediately placed MEU units throughout Nasiriyah and began supplying local residents with purified water taken directly from the Euphrates River.
While in An Nasiriyah, the 15th MEU's Maritime Special Purpose Force assisted in the rescue of former prisoner of war Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch from Saddam Hospital by performing a coordinated attack at a nearby enemy headquarters, in addition to completing a number of other special missions designed to reduce the enemy?s threat here.
The 15th MEU departed San Diego Jan. 6 for a regularly scheduled six-month deployment and is currently due to return this summer.