News: Iron Fist brings Marines, sailors to sea
Story by Gunnery Sgt. Jennifer Antoine
PACIFIC OCEAN – Marines and sailors with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and soldiers with the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force packed their gear and loaded the USS Peleliu February 6, for an amphibious operation to be hosted at San Clemente Island, as a part of Exercise Iron Fist 2012.
The training encompasses all aspects of the Marine Air Ground Task Force during the amphibious landing on to the island and provides the Navy/Marine Corps team an opportunity to practice their craft. Exercise Iron Fist 2012 is a bilateral training exercise, which gives the 15th MEU a chance to demonstrate its amphibious capabilities to the Japanese.
Prior to this evolution, the MEU conducted various types of Marine Corps training to help better prepare for this exercise, including live-fire ranges, a staff planning exercise and helicopter training.
“This is my second time on ship,” said Lance Cpl. Joseph A. Ferguson, fire support man, 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company. “I’m excited to get out to the island,” added the 19-year-old native of Brentwood, Calif.
Ferguson works with the fire power control team, an element of the Marine Air Ground Task Force that will make its way out to San Clemente Island by way of Combat Rubber Raiding Crafts (pronounced ‘cricks.’) A CRRC is a small rubber boat used for moving troops to shore.
Once his team makes it to the island, the Marines, packed with about 60 pounds of gear each, have a 16-mile hike ahead of them before setting up an observation post. Once they establish their observation post, the Marines will be able to use close air support to attack targets and impact areas.
For other Marines aboard the USS Peleliu, this is an opportunity to prepare for the upcoming deployment.
“I’m here to support the Aviation Combat Element,” said Cpl. Guadalupe Ortiz, avionics technician, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364. “My job is to repair the different electronics on the CH-46 helicopter,” added the 22-year-old native of Laredo, Texas.
Ortiz has worked hard training in her craft prior to coming here. She has spent several long days conducting different flight operations to ensure the different electronics systems are functioning properly.
At the end of the day, being aboard a ship is a first time experience for most Marines. This exercise gives them a chance to learn the different customs and courtesies that come with being on a ship and working with their Navy counterparts.
The 15th MEU is currently training for a deployment scheduled for this summer.