NEWS | Nov. 20, 2017

A First for the 'First of the First' with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

By Cpl. Bernadette Wildes 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan -- 1st Marine Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, joined the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in Okinawa, Japan, Nov. 20, 2017. This is the first time Battalion Landing Team (BLT), 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, will deploy as the Ground Combat Element of the 31st MEU.

BLT 1/1 will provide the 31st MEU with capabilities ranging from infantrymen and artillery to armored vehicles and combat engineers, all capable of accomplishing a variety of missions from combat operations to humanitarian aid.

BLT 3/5, the previous Ground Combat Element for the 31st MEU, trained in Australia, Guam and the Philippines in numerous training exercises over the course of its six months with the 31st MEU. BLT 3/5, the “Darkhorse”, used these training opportunities to explore state-of-the-art concepts and technologies that may shape the future of the Marine Corps with the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab.

“As a team, we represented the Pacific region’s crisis response force-in-readiness,” said Lt. Col. Jackson Doan, the commanding officer of BLT 3/5. “It has been an awesome experience for both the young Marines and the seasoned Marines. We will rotate home, but our spirits will always be tied to this particular deployment with the 31st MEU, III Marine Expeditionary Force and our coalition partners abroad.”

“BLT 3/5 did a great job on the Fall Deployment 2017, and I am happy to see them head home to be with their families for the holidays,” said Col. Tye R. Wallace, the 31st MEU commanding officer. Wallace, who was the BLT 1/1 commanding officer from 2008 to 2011, is looking forward to working alongside the new faces of BLT 1/1.

“I am excited to welcome [BLT] 1/1 to the 31st MEU team for the Spring Deployment 2018,” said Wallace. “They will have a unique opportunity to hone their skills and gain a lot of new experiences.”
Lt. Col. Daniel Micklis, the commanding officer of BLT 1/1, said they remain much the same today as during Wallace’s tenure in command – ready to fight.

“This deployment is BLT 1/1’s first time serving as the Ground Combat Element for the 31st MEU,” said Micklis. “The ‘First of the First’ is excited to join the Marine Corps’ only forward deployed MEU with the rest of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force. BLT 1/1 fought here in the Battle of Okinawa over 72 years ago and is prepared, once again, to serve our nation throughout the Pacific region should our nation call.”