Photo Information

Freshly made sandwiches wait while Marines and sailors of Battalion Landing Team 2/6, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit fill sand bags June 9, 2008, in Elnora, Ind. The Marines and sailors began working at 4 a.m. and continued their efforts throughout the day. Local authorities in Elnora requested the 26th MEU to provide support to reinforce the levees from flooding of the White River. ::r::::n::

Photo by Lance Cpl. Patrick M. Johnson-Campbell

Marines assist in relief efforts

8 Jun 2008 | Cpl. Jason D. Mills

Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit began to aid local and state civil authorities yesterday after storms dumped more than 10 inches of rain on southern central Indiana in less than 24 hours.

At the local agencies’ request, the Marines began their assistance around 4 p.m. by providing video and photographs from CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters to the Morgan County Department of Emergency Management. Marines also liaised with Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives for an initial assessment of the damage in the area.

Later that night, Marines dispatched two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters carrying 50 Marines and five Navy medical personnel in order to help evacuate patients and equipment from Columbus Regional Hospital. The patients had been evacuated when the Marines arrived, but they were able to move various equipment and hospital beds.

The Marines were in Indiana to conduct Realistic Urban Training at Camp Atterbury and Muscatatuck Urban Training Center when the series of storms struck. Yesterday’s rains followed an F2 tornado that struck Camp Atterbury and several surrounding communities Tuesday night.

“Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief are among the primary mission capabilities of the 26th MEU,” said commanding officer Col. Mark J. Desens. “Though it’s not what we came here to do, we are ready to help those affected by this crisis.” he said.

Consisting of aviation, ground and logistics combat elements, the MEU is a versatile force capable of rapidly executing a variety of mission from Humanitarian Assistance to Noncombatant Evacuation Operations to surgical raids and full combat.

“We will continue to provide authorized support to local governments as long as we're here and they continue to request our help,” Desens said.

The nearly 2,200 Marines and sailors of the MEU were conducting the intensive three week RUT training period in preparation for their scheduled deployment to the European and Central Command theaters of operations this fall.

For more information on the mission, organization, history and current status of the 26th MEU, visit the unit’s website at www.26meu.usmc.mil.