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NEWS | Sept. 2, 2014

Peleliu to Embark 31st MEU in Okinawa

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Will Gaskill USS Peleliu Public Affairs

The amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5), arrived in Okinawa, Japan, to embark the Okinawa-based 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) after embarking Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11 while in Sasebo, Japan Aug. 31.

Peleliu recently participated in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014, as the flag ship for the RIMPAC Amphibious Task Force with PHIBRON 3 embarked. With 31st MEU and PHIBRON 11, Peleliu will be joined by the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) to form the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group (PEL ARG).

"I am very confident in the capabilities of the Sailors and Marines assigned to this mission," said Cmdr. Scott Hudson, executive officer of Peleliu. "The success of all the amphibious operations safely completed since the beginning of this deployment, especially during RIMPAC, gives me confidence in our ability to carry out any mission required of us."

The addition of a full MEU contingent will also introduce many Sailors and Marines to sea service for the first time.

"Within the MEU, we have a good mix of seasoned Marines who have spent time at sea and those who haven't had the opportunity yet," said Lt. Col. Tom Chalkey, executive officer of 31st MEU. "In fact, some of us have done numerous deployments on Peleliu, so it'll be great to be back aboard her."

Peleliu recently visited Sasebo, Japan, and this trip to Okinawa will be a first for many Sailors.

"I've been to Sasebo before this deployment, but I've never been to Okinawa," said Aviation Odrnanceman 1st Class Bryan Hopkins, from Tucson, Ariz. "With all these Marines onboard, it should be pretty busy around here, and our missions should be pretty interesting. We took on a lot of equipment we've never had before, and there's going to be a lot more [personnel] around here soon, too."

During this training evolution, Peleliu will host MV-22 tilt-rotor Osprey and AV-8B Harrier aircraft, two of the Marines' more specialized aircraft. Additionally, considerations were made onboard Peleliu to receive more than 1,000 additional personnel.

"With the conclusion of RIMPAC, the combat cargo department worked to prepare all the land force spaces for the arrival of 31st MEU Marines and Sailors," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Gistarb, combat cargo officer onboard Peleliu. "With that in hand, we were busy, along with the operations department, with the planning of embarking the MEU personnel and gear once the ship arrived in Okinawa."

Peleliu is on its final regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region before decommissioning early next year.

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