15th MEU News

15th MEU (S0C) Marines knock off rust, sharpen combat skills

25 Feb 2003 | Cpl. Anthony R. Blanco 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Marines from E Company, Battalion Landing Team 2/1, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) dusted the sand from their weapons and conducted a live fire training exercise at Udairi Range to refresh their war-fighting skills Feb. 17 and 18.

Marines' battle-sight zeroed their weapons, engaged targets from known and unknown distances, completed a night fire, threw live-grenades and conducted a raid during the two-day event.

"This training helped re-enforce some of the basic training they couldn't get on ship," said Capt. Pete McAleer, 30, E Co. commanding officer and a Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. native.  "After knocking off the rust, they remembered what they were supposed to do."

This was the first time E Co. received the chance to train in the desert since last fall. The 15th MEU (SOC) departed San Diego on Jan. 6.

"We haven't been out to the desert since October and this was a good opportunity for us," said 1st Sgt. William H. Oldenburg, 35, E. Co. first sergeant, a Poughkeepsie, N.Y. native.  "All you need is a couple of weeks to acclimatize to be able to function, and when it's time to go, the environment won't be a big shock."

By training in the desert, it allowed E. Co. Marines to stretch out and practice as a battalion instead of working in small units on ship. 

"This training was important because instead of having to work on ship in confined spaces, we can train in the desert where there is so much space to train," said Sgt. Jonathon R. Michalec, 21, a Shiner, Texas native and 1st Platoon, E Co. squad leader.  Although training in a desert environment is nothing new to them, some Marines thought the training seemed more realistic than training back at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.

"It was a lot more realistic training out here than back at Pendleton, because the training was more on the fly," said Pfc. Serdar Berkoz, 21, a Simi Valley, Calif. native, and  1st Platoon, E. Co. rifleman. "We didn't have time to rehearse -- we had to know exactly what we were doing." 

Berkoz said the training was more realistic and he feels more confident about in a possible future confrontation. 

"I feel more confident now, seeing that our battalion can work on the fly," he added.  "The small unit team leaders really pulled through and controlled the situation."

Throughout the exercise, Lance Cpl. Daymond R. Geer, 20, a squad automatic weapon gunner with 1st Platoon, E Co., a Victor, Calif. native, noticed that this unit was coming together as a family.

"I think that we have become a lot closer since coming out here as a unit," Geer said.  "During the raid, my squad leader just looked at me and I immediately knew what to do.  It has come to the point where we can start to read each other's minds." 

After the exercise was completed, Oldenburg said the Marines are ready.

"I can't stress enough the confidence I have in this unit that we'll accomplish any tasks given to us," Oldenburg said.  "The Marines are ready and they know what to do, all we need is the word."

15th Marine Expeditionary Unit