CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Marines and sailors of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit completed their first unit hike behind a new commanding officer here, July 19.<br /> <br /> Col. Matthew Trollinger, commanding officer of the 11th MEU, re-instituted unit hikes this month with the intent of continuing the physical and mental development of the Marines and sailors under his charge.<br /> <br /> Dusting off packs for the first hike in nine months was a welcome change of pace for some members of the unit. <br /> <br /> “Hikes are a great opportunity to see everyone’s mental toughness,” said Capt. Patrick Mahoney, the 11th MEU’s communications officer. “Physically, anyone can complete a hike. It’s the mental toughness that really pushes people and leads to better unit cohesion.”<br /> <br /> Following completion of the hike, the Marines and sailors conducted weapons maintenance and returned to the command post for a talk from the commanding officer and sergeant major. <br /> <br /> “This was a good first step toward getting us ready as a command element,” said Trollinger.<br /> <br /> Sgt. Maj. Troy Black, the sergeant major of the 11th MEU, echoed the CO’s comments and spoke about the importance of being a basic Marine. <br /> <br /> “A basic Marine strives to be the best in everything we do,” said Black. “It’s not because you’re in the Marine Corps, it’s because you are a Marine.”<br /> <br /> Members of the 11th MEU will continue monthly hikes as they prepare mentally and physically for the challenges of an upcoming deployment.