Photo Information

Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-264 (Rein) react as the satellite linkup to their families at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point is established. The 26th MEU is currently engaged in Maritime Security Operations in the Central Arabian Gulf. (Official Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Aaron J. Rock) (Released)

Photo by Cpl. Aaron J. Rock

Satellite lets 26th MEU reach out to families

14 Apr 2007 | Cpl. Aaron J. Rock

Several Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit got a chance to talk to, and see, their loved ones in the United States Saturday, courtesy of video teleconferencing (VTC).

Each element of the MEU will have the opportunity to take part in the program, which is organized by that element's Family Readiness Officer and the Key Volunteer Network coordinator in the rear.

Capt. Jeremy E. Reinfield, Family Readiness Officer for the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point-based AV-8B Harrier II detachment, which is part of the 26th MEU's aviation combat element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 264 (Reinforced), said coordinating the VTC is important for the Marines.

"It gives everybody a chance to talk to their family and see their faces," he said.

Twenty-three HMM-264 (Rein) Marines and their families got some time together Saturday with the system, which consists of a camera, television, and a microphone on both ends.

Reinfield credited the KVN coordinator at MCAS Cherry Point for putting the event together.

"The KVN did all the work and coordination," he said, adding that it doesn't take much to muster the Marines on ship.

One difficulty in coordinating these events can be the time difference between where the MEU is and the Marines' home station. A reasonable time for both parties had to be reached, not a small task for those with children.

It is also necessary for those who wanted to participate to be at the location of the camera on the base.

Staff Sgt. Michael S. Cunningham, a Harrier maintenance controller for HMM-264 (Rein), enjoyed the chance to see his family.

"It was a little weird looking at your family on TV," he said. "But it was nice to see them and not just talk to them."

The MEU deployed from Camp Lejeune, N.C., in early January, so while most Marines have talked to their families, few have seen them in more than three months.

Reinfield said the unit decided to put the conferencing together because, "It's about halfway through the float, so it's a good time to do it."

"It's a big morale booster, both for us and our families," he said.

Cunningham agreed.  "It's definitely good for morale, especially for the younger guys who haven't been on a deployment yet or have a new baby."

The 26th MEU is currently supporting maritime security operations in the central Arabian Gulf.

Coalition forces conduct maritime security operations under international maritime conventions to ensure security and safety in international waters so that all commercial shipping can operate freely while transiting the region

For more on the MEU, including news, videos and contact information, visit www.usmc.mil/26thmeu.