ABOARD USS PELELIU --
Marines and sailors with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, said their final teary-eyed good-byes to family and loved-ones as they departed on a six month deployment.
With the final good-byes said and the ships at sea, the Marines and sailors can now focus their efforts on preparing for a sea based deployment and adjusting for a foreign way of life.
“It takes a few days to a week to get used to the ship rocking,” said Sgt. Eric Cole, the warehouse chief for the 15th MEU, who added the ships confinement also requires some getting used to.
“(On land based deployments) you can disappear by going to the recreation tent or (post exchange), but on ship there are only so many places you can go and you can’t get away,” said Cole who has been on previous MEU deployments.
One similarity between other deployments and a MEU deployment is extended amounts of time away from loved ones.
“It was really hard to say good-bye to my wife. One thing that makes it harder is that while you’re deployed and you have a hard day you can’t go home to a loved one, you end up going to a small bed that is stacked on another small bed,” said Cole.
Although Marines spend extended amounts of time away from home, they are afforded the opportunity to visit foreign ports and explore different countries.
“I’m extremely excited to visit different countries and go sightseeing,” said Cole.
Now that the Marines are underway, there is additional time to focus on military studies and further develop professional skills.
“Our basic day consists of physical training and classes that focus on basic knowledge, tactics, vehicle maintenance and weapons maintenance,” said Sgt. Brian Oberschmid, a Light Armored Vehicle scout section leader, with Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.
Furthermore, the downtime during the deployment allows Marines to catch up on the skills lost due to frequent deployments supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom rotations.
“With the high deployment tempo, our goal is to go back to the basics and teach the junior noncommissioned officers, and junior Marines our jobs because one day they will be in our shoes,” said Oberschmid, a 24 year-old native of Burnsville, Minn.
The Camp Pendleton, Calif., based 15th MEU is comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines and sailors and is a forward deployed force in readiness capable of conducting numerous operations, such as Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations, Humanitarian Assistance Operations and range of amphibious missions. The MEU is currently deployed aboard USS Peleliu (LHA-5), USS Dubuque (LPD-8) and USS Pearl Harbor (LSD-52).