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Marine Expeditionary Force – 2014 Highlights

Contains highlights from exercises during 2014 and is not limited to exercises like Steel Knight, Valiant Mark, Dawn Blitz, Koru Kiwi, Large Scale Exercise and Pacific Horizon.


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U.S. Marine Corps Rifle Range Camp Matthews

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It includes excellent historical film footage shot at Camp Matthews from the 1930s to 1964 when the rifle range closed and training was relocated to Edson Range at Camp Pendleton.

Scenes in this video include shooting with the Springfield, Garand and M-14

Marines Take First Step to Become Scout Snipers

Marines serving with the 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, volunteered to take a scout sniper screener to have a chance of becoming part of the scout sniper platoon.

Upon passing the screener, Marines are selected to become a part of the platoon and are sent to Scout Sniper Basic Course once their command is confident they’re ready.

The screener consists of various activities including fitness tests, academic tests and land navigation over a period of four days with a couple hours rest in between days.

Cpl. Kyle Janssen, Scout Sniper, Emmetsburg, Iowa, is interviewed.

Marine For A Day

Camp Pendleton teams up with Make-A-Wish Foundation to make child’s wish come true

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – At only 5 years old, Jorge Solis has dreamed of becoming a Marine for more than half his life.

Jorge, who suffers from retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer, got the chance to live his dream when the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Orange County and the Inland Empire partnered with Camp Pendleton to conduct a hands-on tour for Jorge and his family, Aug. 10.

Dressed in a tan Marine Corps camouflage uniform complete with cover, backpack, tan boots and a blue button identifying him as a Make-A-Wish child, Jorge looked the part when he arrived at the main gate in a white limousine with his parents and three brothers, who all wore Marine Corps t-shirts.

Jorge Solis, 5, runs off an amphibious assault vehicle after taking a ride at 3rd Assault Amphious Battalion during his base tour Aug. 10

This is a dream come true for Jorge, and we’re so glad to be here,” said Carmen Reyes, Jorge’s mother. “He’s loved the military since he was 2 years old- playing soldiers, yelling ‘move out, move out’ at his brothers, watching all the Rambo movies- it’s just in his blood.”

Jorge’s family was accompanied by several representatives from the Orange County and Inland Empire Make-A-Wish offices, including chief executive officer Stephanie McCormick, Jorge’s wish coordinator Michelle Cuellar, and chairman of the board Michael Rapacz.

Jorge’s first stop was the South Mesa Club, where he was greeted by Brig. Gen. Vincent A. Coglianese, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations-West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and Sgt. Maj. Derrick Christovale, Marine Corps Installations-West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton sergeant major.

During the meeting, Coglianese and Christovale presented Jorge with a duffel bag of Marine Corps goodies, promoted him to general, and taught him how to march and salute.

“I only have one order for you Jorge,” said Coglianese, saluting the new young general as the meeting ended. “Have a good time.”

“Yes, sir,” said Jorge, saluting.

Throughout the day, Jorge and his family participated in various activities across the base: riding amphibious assault vehicles, shooting rifles and pistols at the Individual Simulated Marksmanship Trainer, learning a boxing lesson from instructors at the new Marine Corps Martial Arts Program dojo, eating lunch with Coglianese at the 24 Area chow hall, flying the helicopter simulator on Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, controlling an explosive ordinance disposal robot at the EOD Museum, taking photos in vintage military vehicles at the Mechanized Museum and watching a demo and petting the dogs at the K-9 kennels.

At every location he was saluted and presented coins, badges and other gifts from the Marines.

Seeing Jorge’s wish granted touched not only the family, but the Marines he came into contact with throughout the day as well.

While waiting in line at the chow hall for a cheeseburger, he was approached by a Marine who offered him a handshake and his boot bands so he could blouse his boots.

“He’s just a brave little guy, full of life and energy,” said Sgt. Daniel Mullis, a formal marksmanship training course instructor at the ISMT. “We really enjoyed having him here with us today.”

At the end of the day, Jorge settled back into the limo with his family for the ride home, arms full of coins, stickers and t-shirts, an ear-to-ear smile still plastered across his face.

“I’ve had a lot of fun today,” said Jorge. “I like playing Marines with my brothers, and we liked all the things we got to do.”

In the end, it is that smile that lets everyone know the mission was accomplished, said McCormick.

“Never underestimate the smile of a wish child,” said McCormick. That’s what it is all about. Jorge will remember this day for the rest of his life, and his smile today has transformed all our lives.”

Cpl. Jovane Henry

Training Families Is Essential For A Successful Deployment

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s family readiness officer hosted an event to educate Marines, sailors and family members on the benefits and support that are available, during a class held at the Abby Reinke Community Center, March 14.

The class was a condensed version of the Lifestyle Insights Networking Knowledge Skills course, and was an opportunity for spouses to familiarize themselves with how the military operates. It focused on emotions, resources, pay, inter-family communication and volunteering.

“The purpose of today’s class is to give junior service members and their spouses fundamental information on Marine Corps basics,” said Rebecca M. Roman, family readiness officer, Command Element, 15th MEU. “There is a wealth of resources available for the family members. My job is to make sure they are as prepared as they can be for this deployment.”

The class started with a lesson on the common emotional cycle deployments often cause for the families at home. Since both service members and their spouses were present, this was a dual learning opportunity.

“The families need to support their Marine or sailor so they can focus on mission,” said Mary C. Henson, LINKS trainer, Marine and Family Programs. “The deployments don’t get easier, but the more you can prepare for them the easier they’ll be,” added the Marine spouse.

Over the years, the amount of resources available to the military and their families has significantly grown. In order to test the knowledge of the students, the LINKS instructors held a jeopardy-style quiz on those very resources.

“Playing the game about resources made the class more fun,” said Cpl. Stephen M. Box, embarkation specialist, Command Element, 15th MEU. “I learned about some resources I had never even heard of. I’m glad I was there,” added the 24-year-old native of Memphis, Tenn.

One of the many preconceived notions associated with military deployments is that there is an increase in pay. The various factors involved with deployment pay were also explained at the class.

“The class on pay really helped me out,” said Cpl. Kristopher J. Robinson, maintenance management chief, Command Element, 15th MEU.

“I’m glad that this information was explained to us now so that we can more effectively budget our money,” added the 22-year-old native of Kansas City, Mo.

For more information regarding 15th MEU family readiness, contact Roman at 760-429-5385 or by email at rebecca.roman@usmc.mil.

Wounded Marines Are Down, Not Out

Marines who want to progress through the ranks of noncommissioned officer and staff noncommissioned officer frequently have the opportunity to go through leadership courses such as corporals and sergeants courses. These courses provide the basic fundamentals essential for Marines to lead their subordinates and provide structure and stability both in combat and in garrison. For Wounded Warrior Marines, the possibility of attending leadership courses wasn’t previously an option. Today, the Corps is bringing the courses directly to the Marines.

A group of Marines who sustained injuries during deployments graduated the first Wounded Warrior Corporals Course at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda, Md., Jan. 17.

“The detachment staff wanted something to help these Marines continue their professional development,” said Gunnery Sgt. Boris Peredo, instructor with the Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. Peredo was one of three instructors who volunteered to teach the two-week course.

“The biggest thing I try and get across to Marines is it’s not about them; it’s about the Marines they lead,” Peredo said. “It’s about putting their needs aside and being able to talk to other Marines and setting them up for success. Being able to say you’re down but not out is a big part of leadership.”

For many of the Marines taking the course, it gave them the opportunity to remember why they joined the Marine Corps and motivated them to continue their career in the Corps.

“The course challenged me to get back in the mindset of being an NCO,” said Cpl. Rory Hamill, who sustained injuries to his right leg while deployed to Afghanistan with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines. “We can lose that mindset easily here since the focus is on recovery instead of being a Marine.”

The course was identical to other corporals courses, including periods of instruction on sword and guidon manual, mentoring, counseling and how to effectively lead junior Marines.

“Obviously some stuff was altered, such as field operations and regular running, lifting weights or other activities our injuries prohibit,” said Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter, who sustained injuries to the right side of his body from an enemy grenade in Marjah, Afghanistan in 2010 with 2nd battalion, 9th Marines.

Physical training wasn’t the only aspect of the course altered for these Marines. Many events such as land navigation and sword manual were discussed in detail as opposed to performed due to the injuries of some of the students. Despite the challenges, the instructors ensured training topics were covered in detail so the Marines would be able to confidently train and mentor their junior Marines.

“They had to adapt a lot of the training schedule to the wounded Marines because, obviously, there are guys missing arms, guys missing legs who cant do everything,” Hamill said. “They adapted but made sure we understood.”

The Marines were thoroughly taught and tested throughout the course. The challenges they faced brought the Marines together and helped them embrace the fact that they remain a band of brothers.

“Not everyone was excited to come to class everyday but I think it makes the guys think about reenlisting and it puts the Marines priorities in order,” Carpenter said. “It lifted morale and increased our motivation these two weeks we were together.”

Although the wounded Marines signed up for the opportunity, many were admittedly apprehensive in the beginning but were appreciative of the experience by graduation day.

“I chose to take the course because I plan on staying in the Corps,” Hamill said. “I love this organization. Being here and all the help I received, even after my injury, has motivated me even more. This is my family and I love it.”

With the course now complete, these Marines can concentrate on their goals and their future in the Corps.

“Getting injured puts things in perspective and makes you grow up in your professional and personal life,” Carpenter said. “I definitely consider reenlisting more now since before I was injured.”

Although the experience was unique for the Wounded Warrior Regiment, it was a learning and growing experience for the students, the staff and everyone involved.

“Teaching these Marines makes you realize who you are as a Marine; I think I needed this more than they did,” Peredo said. “It hits home because I’m able to stand; I’m able to move around and they’re not. These are good Marines and now they realize they have something to offer back.”

Peredo said they got through to most of the class and reminded them things they forgot while being isolated from the Corps at the medical center.

“A lot of Marines treat this like a petting zoo, they come here because they feel sorry for the wounded Marines,” Peredo said. “They dont need that, they need to be taught and trained like Marines.”

The detachments goal is to continue corporals courses and other professional development for wounded warriors with classes at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Lance Cpl. Daniel A. Wetzel , Headquarters Marine Corps


Hope And Care Center Opens For Wounded Warriors

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in celebration of the opening of Camp Pendleton’s Warrior Hope and Care Center, Oct. 6, marking the end of a nearly three-year-long construction.
The new facility located in the Wounded Warrior Battalion West will house offices for counseling and transition services that cater to wounded, ill and injured Marines, sailors and their families during their healing process.

“The men and women who, after 9/11, volunteered to fight terrorists have endured multiple deployments and continue to fight in one of the longest engagements in our history,” said Sean Hulen, vice president of the construction company. “You are protecting our freedom and will successfully transition back into civilian life or stay in the Marine Corps or Navy with the service provided by [this battalion].”

The nearly $30 million project is the latest addition to the WWBn-W that was established on base in 2007 in an effort to treat service members who were injured in battle or training, or off-base accidents who don’t need long-term hospitalization.

The new 30,000-square-foot LEED Platinum Certified campus has 38 office spaces and will accommodate wounded warrior support ranging from family readiness, mental health, recovery care coordinators, as well as host the battalion’s Warrior Athletic Reconditioning Program.

“[Constructing this facility] showed an extraordinary focus and attention to detail, yielding in results unlike any other project I’ve been associated with,” said Capt. Michael Williamson, officer in charge of construction, Marine Corps Installations West. “The water features and fountains create a tranquil healing environment, the landscapes integrate all the facilities into a true campus like environment that produce connectivity throughout the facility to ease wounded warriors healing processes.”

The WHCC will also contain a community area which includes family and computer lounges, child play area, presentation and training rooms, as well as a state-of-the-art physical training facility

“This facility represents the yielding commitment that the Marine Corps has made to keep the faith with our wounded, ill and injured,” said Lt. Col. James R. Fullwood, commanding officer, WWBn-W. “Marines and their families will fill the holes with motivation, courage, compassion and hope while continuing to push the boundaries of what the human spirit can accomplish.”

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