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15th Marine Expeditionary Unit


15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

America's Vanguard Force

Camp Pendleton, CA
Families sail home with servicemembers during Tiger Cruise

By Cpl. Timothy Childers | | May 9, 2013

After being away from their families and loved ones for many months, Marines and sailors are always anxious to reunite with them when they return. For some, the chance to be with those they hold dear came early.

During the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s deployment, Marines and sailors aboard USS Peleliu were given the chance to meet with their friends and families and share with them an experience of a lifetime when they began the Tiger Cruise, May 5. During the Tiger Cruise, guests come aboard and live side-by-side with their Marine or sailor, experiencing ship-life and learning about the deployment.

The “Tigers” flew out to Hawaii during the last leg of the deployment to reunite with their loved ones and to ride the ship home with them to San Diego. For many, it was the first time on a Naval vessel, which left numerous people intrigued and surprised about the daily life of the Marines and sailors aboard.

“I wanted to be a Marine, and I felt like this was a great opportunity to see what it would be like,” said Pablo Mamani. “I could also see what my brother does for a living. It was awesome being able to live and eat with Marines and learn about what they do. I was taken back by the massive amount of knowledge each Marine has about their job. It’s amazing how they know the ins-and-outs of their jobs to every detail.”

Many of the Marines and sailors aboard had not seen their family members since they left San Diego in September, 2012. Having them aboard was great for everyone and provided the perfect opportunity to reconnect with each other in a unique way.

“I haven’t seen my brother for more than seven months,” said Jose M. Mamani, supply clerk, Command Element, 15th MEU. 

“I wanted to see him before we got back, and it’s not everyday that he can come to work with me for an entire week to see what I do. I think he appreciates even more what we do as Marines and sailors,” added the 20-year-old native of Burke, Va.

Living, eating and sharing quarters with their deployed loved ones also allowed the friends and family members to experience firsthand what it’s like to be at-sea for many days.

“My daughter is deployed aboard the Peleliu,” said Kenneth D. Luma. “I was in the Navy, but I was never deployed at-sea. I was thrilled about the experience to come aboard and take advantage of this opportunity. I had to seize the moment. It’s very nice, these few days I’ve been here, even though I’m not used to living in such closed spaces. It was definitely an eye-opener. It was interesting seeing how the ship works, and I learned that the ship is like a bee-hive, everyone is busy with a task of their own, working toward a common goal.”

A number of events were planned for the guests to allow them to become familiar with the ship, connect with the Marines and sailors aboard, learn about the deployment and experience the multitude of jobs the servicemembers perform. During the day, the guests toured the ship and viewed static displays of weapons and vehicles. During the night, the guests connected with the embarked troops at an ice cream social and a movie.

“It was my dad’s dying wish to experience living on a Navy ship,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Rebekah F. Gumm, equipment operator, Beach Masters Unit 1. 

“Bringing him onto the ship was a great way to explain to him first-hand about life on a ship and my deployment. I took him on the tour of the ship and could tell he was thrilled since I know a lot of his interests are in the military,” said the 23-year-old native of Kingston, Wash.

The guests will ride-out the remainder of the deployment all the way to Camp Pendleton or the home port of San Diego.

The 15th MEU is comprised of approximately 2,400 Marines and sailors and is deployed as part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group. Together, 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.