Alpha Company kills two birds with one stone during SOCEX;

5 Aug 2003 | Sgt. Mark P. Ledesma 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit

As reveille was sounded aboard the USS Ogden, Marines of  Company A, Battalion Landing Team 1/1, quickly dressed and prepared themselves to join a simulated amphibious assault Aug. 5 at two suspected terrorist strongholds at training sites on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

Below at the belly of the Ogden's dim well deck, a group of Marines began to stage 15 of the company's AAV7A1 Assault Amphibian Vehicles (AAV) for the mission at approximately 8 a.m.  As Marines filtered down to the well deck, they made final accountability of gear and personnel and began boarding the AAVs.

According to 1st Sgt. Jay C. Foote, Company A, the amphibious assault was the only exercise the company as a whole participated in during the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit's final Special Operations Capable Exercise.

"This was their (the Marines) first exercise during this work-up," said Foote.  "They are definitely anxious to get off the ship and get the mission going."

According to 1st Lt. Olugbenro M. Adeyemi, executive officer, Company A, the first objective was to conduct a battle hand over with Company B, which left the Ogden the previous night on zodiacs, landing at Red Beach and moving inland to the Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) Facility at Range 131.  Company B, the Battalion's Boat Company, engaged the terrorist strong hold an hour before Company A's arrival. 

Upon reaching the MOUT Facility, Company A Marines dismounted their AAVs and engaged the enemy on foot in intense urban warfare.

According to Adeyemi, the company ran into minor communication problems during the battle at the MOUT Facility.

"In the MOUT Facility, it's hard to communicate," said Adeyemi.  "It's hard to determine where your lead Marines are located.   It's always key that they keep good communication because for all we know the enemy could be still holding on to some of the buildings they have already cleared."

Company A noncommissioned officers and platoon sergeants worked around problems and did an excellent job overall, said Adeyemi.

"There have definitely been some big improvements from past experiences," said Adeyemi, referring to knowledge gained since beginning work-ups. 

According to Adeyemi, the Marines did an awesome job across the board from private on up.

After securing the town, the Marines moved back to the AAVs and pushed forward to the next objective, a Mechanized Assault Course raid (MAC) several miles away from the MOUT Facility.

In their second objective, the company's mission was to gather intelligence from a terrorist site to send back to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit Command Element.

According to Adeyemi, the company's MAC raid was executed precisly because of past MAC raid exercises the company conducted.

"The exercise went very well from what I had seen and heard from all parties who were involved," said 24-year-old Cpl. Jason T. Bohrer, company clerk, Headquarters Detachment, Company A, who played an important role of gathering casualty victims during the battle at MOUT Facility.

"I got a lot of good training out of it as one of the Casualty Collection Point Marines," said Bohrer. "I gained better field knowledge of the Casualty Collection Point. We're more locked on than we have ever been before."

The Joint Task Force Exercise is the culminating event for the MEU during work-ups.  The Amphibious Assault allowed Company A Marines to bring together many aspects of work-up training at one time during the final days of the exercise.

13th Marine Expeditionary Unit