News: Combat Cargo steps up for Exercise Bold Alligator
Story by Cpl. Walter D. Marino II
USS WASP, At Sea — If you fly aboard the USS Wasp, Combat Cargo Marines are the first to greet you and are the ones helping you with your bags. They receive nothing more than thank-you nods – not that anything could be heard through the massive noise caused by aircraft propellers. They do it happily and efficiently because it’s an important piece to the working machine that is Exercise Bold Alligator.
To anyone who has not seen the Marines work on the flight line, it looks strikingly similar to a pit stop at a NASCAR event. The powerful machine comes to a stop, the crew comes out from the sideline, and a blur of moving bodies take care of the rest.
“Ninety-percent of the Marines, sailors and media have either never been on a ship or flown to a ship before,” said Sgt. Ruben Chavez Jr., a Combat Cargo Marine attached to USS Wasp. “They don’t notice what the (combat cargo) Marines are doing, but we’re working to get them on and off safely.”
Although these combat cargo Marines play a small role in a massive amphibious exercise, without the support element and training, including practicing amphibious assaults, humanitarian relief and medical evacuations would not be possible.
Approximately 40 combat cargo Marines assist all service members and media in boarding and exiting the USS Wasp. While passengers have only two ways to come aboard (via air or sea), they have a vast amount of vehicles to choose from such as Amphibious Assault Vehicles, Landing Craft Air Cushions and MV-22B Ospreys.
On ship, accountability is extremely important. Combat Cargo Marines are responsible for making sure every individual that is expected to arrive or depart does so.
“We make sure everyone who is supposed to be here – is here,” said Cpl. James B. Rogers, a WASP Combat Cargo Marine. “We have to be ready to account for everybody with a roster.”
Despite their diverse background the combat cargo crew works well together, and for many, the experience is new.
“This is my first time, this is something I can take back to my reserve unit and share,” said Lance Cpl. Calvin Smith Jr., a combat cargo Marine attached to WASP. I think it’s great that the sailors and Marines are getting the opportunity to work together.”