MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Three amphibious assault vehicles splash across the water. Their mission: to secure a landing zone and provide security. The AAVs open, and the Marines charge out – squad leaders shouting orders to establish a 360 degree perimeter.
After 24 hours of preparation, elements of Company A, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, successfully executed the high paced exercise off Onslow Beach, May 18.
Late afternoon the day before, the Marines traveled by AAVs from Onslow Beach to the USS Bataan, which was afloat a few miles out in the ocean. They stayed aboard the ship overnight, which was a new experience for most of the Marines.
“(The Marines) loved being aboard the ship,” said 2nd Lt. Matthew Gaitan, the 2nd platoon commander for Company A. “They haven’t been on a ship before. Everyone got lost and it was a good time. We enjoyed the new experience and made the most of it.”
After arriving on the ship, the Marines put away their gear in their designated berthing areas and ate dinner in the ship’s mess hall. The hot food, salad bar and choice of beverage were celebrated alternatives to the Meals, Ready to Eat from earlier. They went to work after their meal, executing walkthroughs for the next day’s big mission.
“The objective was to execute a ship-to-shore attack to secure the LZ,” said Gaitan. “Once we took the LZ, we were to wait for follow-on operations.”
The Marines were successful, but to do so, they had to overcome a slew of unforeseen issues during the training. The rough ocean waves almost prevented the AAVs from going ship to shore, and one of the AAVs even had a small fire during the movement. The Marines overcame these problems and still arrived at the LZ.
“We did really well for our first time,” said Gaitan. “We had an opportunity to train with AAVs before, and securing LZs is our bread and butter, so we had no problem combining the two into a successful operation.”