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15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

America's Vanguard Force

Camp Pendleton, CA
Pilots from the 15th MEU assist with humanitarian efforts in Pakistan

By Capt. Paul Duncan | | August 14, 2010

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“When you are assigned as an aviator to a MEU, you never know what to expect, “said Capt. Clark Noble, a CH-53E pilot and current operations officer for HMM-165(REIN). You could spend a good portion of your time just trying to maintain qualifications and flight hours or, as in this case, helping local civilians in a foreign country during natural disasters,” explained the 28-year-old native of Gainesville, Ga.

MEU experiences can be very diverse during a deployment. It is for this reason alone many sailors and Marines desire to be attached to a MEU in the first place.

“Every Marine wants to be a part of a MEU because the MEU usually represents the tip of the spear during real world operations said, Cpl. Donovan Day, an airframes mechanic for HMM-165(REIN). "But sometimes when your unit is tasked with being the theater reserve, ground hog day can set in pretty quickly,” says the 22-year-old Hawaii native.

The Marine Corps has garnered a reputation for being the world’s 911-force-in-readiness. And it’s a job Marines take seriously. The tasks they perform each day are done with pride and professionalism but there are few jobs a Marine will do during his career more satisfying than performing humanitarian assistance operations (HAO).

“We are here to help in anyway we can,” said Lt. Col. Todd Oneto, commanding officer of HMM-165 (REIN). The Pakistani military has the lead on all operations so whatever they say goes. We are just glad to be here and feel honored to be a part of the team. It doesn’t matter to my Marines if they are performing refugee extraction missions, building up supply depots, or carrying crates of meals ready to eat (MRE) from one location to the next, we just want to do what we can to assist,” said the 47-year-old Wallingford, Conn., native.

The duration of support provided by the Marines in the area is uncertain. They could be here for a month or longer depending on how long the crisis continues and how long the Pakistani government requires and requests U.S. assistance. One thing is for sure: the Marines are excited to be a part of a growing multi-national community of volunteers working hard to alleviate the suffering in Pakistan.

“I am just glad to be here,” said Cpl. Kirenia Dejarnatt, an airframes mechanic with HMM-165(REIN). “The people here are very friendly and have expressed nothing but gratitude and appreciation for us being here. I really feel like I am making a positive difference in the world because of what we are doing,” explained the 23-year-old Miami, Fla., native.

Working in adverse weather conditions is nothing new to Marines. The training they received in preparation for their current mission has provided them with the confidence necessary to perform under stressful conditions.

“We are here during Pakistan’s monsoon season. And from what I have been told, it is particularly bad this year," said Capt. Ben Clayton, aviation safety officer for HMM-165(REIN). Many of the Pakistani pilots I have spoken with have told me the flying can be particularly challenging but I am confident we will be able to accomplish any mission we are assigned,” explained the 28-year-old native of Canby, Ore.

As concerns regarding pending weather conditions grow more assistance will likely be needed. Where that assistance will come from is yet to be determined. One thing is for sure, the sailors and Marines of the 15th MEU are ready to help whenever and where ever they are called.

The 15th MEU is currently deployed with the Peleliu Amphibious Readiness Group performing training and real world missions as part of their routine deployment across the Western Pacific.


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