26th MEU(SOC) says goodbye

10 Jul 2000 | Cpl. Derek Shoemake

Marines and Sailors with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) said goodbye to their loved ones July 12 as they left aboard USS Saipan, USS Austin and USS Ashland for the Mediterranean region.

This deployment comes after the 26th MEU(SOC) successfully completed an intense pre-deployment work-up process.

During their time in the Mediterranean, the unit will serve as Landing Force Sixth Fleet, able to respond to any crisis they could be called upon to perform.

Major General Martin R. Berndt, II Marine Expeditionary Force Commanding General, believes that call is something the 26th MEU(SOC) should count on.

"Over the next five months something will happen that will require you to execute and demonstrate your skills. Something will happen. I guarantee it, and you will succeed," he said.

These comments were made just as the MEU conducted a motivation run with their 2,200 members. This run signified the teamwork and dedication that will drive the MEU to succeed.

Colonel Kenneth J. Glueck, 26thMEU(SOC) Commanding Officer, added that on an average of every 35 days, our nations leaders call to deploy Marines.

"When you look at that (statistic) over five months it looks pretty likely," he said.

However, Marines and Sailors with the 26th MEU(SOC) said they feel up to the challenge.

"We have great leadership, and that's what made us a success last year," said LCpl. Peter Babilonia, 21 year-old Bronx, N.Y. native and radio operator with the MEU Command Element's S-6 radio section. During their last deployment, the 26th MEU(SOC) became the first American peacekeeping force to move into Kosovo.

"They know what they're doing because they've been there," he said. "From the officers all the way down to the NCOs we've got a great unit."

"What makes this a good unit is the training we receive," said Cpl. Donald Wilcox, 26th MEU(SOC)'s topographic chief and 21 year-old Buffalo, N.Y. native. "When we train, we work hard and don't look back. Our reward is successful missions later down the road."

Glueck said he couldn't agree more.

"Ours is some of the best training in the world," he said. "We're prepared for whatever's out there."

Though "there" could be anywhere in the world, the 26th MEU(SOC)'s primary area of concern are the countries in Europe and Northern Africa.

After crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the 26th MEU(SOC) will meet the 24th MEU(SOC) in Rota, Spain, where they will formally assume the duties of protecting America's interest abroad.