MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. --
When it really comes down to it, it goes way beyond the uniform, beyond the title of soldier or Marine. No matter what branch, we are all one big team,” said 1st Sgt. Philip Baldwin, the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the tactical operations center for the 841st Transportation Battalion.
From Sept. 25 - 28, the Marines of 2nd Beach and Terminal Operations Company B Reinforced, more commonly known as the Savannah Marines, participated in a joint force exercise with the Army in Savannah, Ga.
The Marines helped the 841st Transportation Battalion load the USNS Bob Hope with essential gear destined for Iraq.
This is the first time the Army and Marine Corps have worked together in this fashion, said Gunnery Sgt. Martinez Vinson, the embark and traffic chief for the Savannah Marines.
“They came to us because they knew that it’s one of our tasks as a beach and terminal operations group, it’s something that we specialize in,” said Vinson. “We have three major fields that would work in that capacity; logistics specialists, embark specialists and traffic management specialists. We’re pretty much a one-stop shop - we were just what the Army needed right now.”
There were more than a dozen Marine reservists activated to assist approximately 26 soldiers assigned to the task.
“We have about 14 Marines out there right now,” Vinson said. “They were activated for one week for the sole purpose of helping the Army.”
The Army normally only hires civilian contractors for the loading and unloading of gear, which is something that the Marine Corps normally takes care of in house, Vinson said.
“The Marines definitely move with a higher sense of purpose than the civilians do,” said Army Lt. Col. Randy Haufe, the commander of the 841st Transportation Battalion. “The civilians that we have working for us are a great bunch, but the Marines just seem to have a greater understanding of the overall mission – to help our brothers and sisters in the warfighting effort.”
In a 72-hour period, the Marines helped load approximately 1,500 pieces of gear, from tanks to trailers, bound for the fight, which equates to more than 20 million pounds of gear, Vinson said.
“In correlation to the war effort, this is greatly going to benefit the Army for sustainment purposes,” Vinson said. “This gear came from all over the U.S. and it’s now getting sent all over Iraq.”
The Savannah Marines can expect to be doing this again, said Maj. John Sattely, the inspector instructor for the 2nd Beach and Terminal Operations Company B Reinforced.
“It’s great training for our Marines here and we hope to get the opportunity to work like this with the Army again,” Sattely said.
The Army operated the command and control side of the house while the Marine Corps handled the execution side of the house, said Army Capt. Chris LeCron, the cargo movement officer for the 841st Transportation Battalion.
“Basically the Army dictated how and when it all got done and who did it and the Marine Corps made sure that it happened just as planned,” LeCron explained.
LeCron went on to say, “The Marines will do anything to make it happen on any side of the house. Sometimes people come and they have certain specialties and they just stay in their lane, but the Marine side of the house is pretty much up for any mission, any situation - they go ahead and make it happen. And that’s great here because things happen on the fly and you have to be ready to react and occasionally you have to do something that you aren’t familiar with and you have to take the initiative to do it.”
The overall consensus amongst all the soldiers of the 841st was that of gratitude for all of the Marines’ hard work.
“This has been our smoothest move so far,” LeCron said. “The help that we got from the Savannah Marines has been an invaluable resource in the timely completion of this move.”