Photo Information

Shortly after arriving at Al Asad, Marines load their gear onto a waiting truck. Four CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters and about 60 Marines from HMM-264 (Rein), the aviation combat element of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, detached from the MEU to support operations at Al Asad.

Photo by Cpl. Jason D. Mills)

From sea to shore

20 Sep 2008 | Cpl. Jason D. Mills

In a war where there are no front lines and the needs of the warfighters fluctuate on a dynamic battlefield, it wasn’t surprising to hear that Marines in the fight needed the capabilities of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Black Knights of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-264 (Rein).

On Sept. 14, four CH-53E Super Stallions and the nearly 60 Marines who man them set out on a trek to Al Asad Air Base, where they would join the Heavy Haulers of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462 more than 350 miles away.

“We are here to backfill the deficit in HMH-462, (which) was given another tasking, those Marines and aircraft were sent to another place and we were asked to come and fill in,” said Major Scott Wadle, the HMM-264 detachment officer in charge. He went on to say that the detachment will stay in Al Asad until the job is done.

Despite the relatively smooth flight over more than 200 miles of barren desert, their journey wasn’t without issue.

After stopping for fuel near the town of Ar Rutbah at Camp Korean Village, which got its name because it once housed Korean laborers who paved the Amman-Baghdad highway during Saddam Hussein's regime, the Black Knights found themselves delayed due to a sandstorm near Al Asad.

After nearly three days waiting, the undeterred Marines saw an opportunity to push on and took it, leaving Camp KV and finally reaching their destination at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq.

Cpl. Daniel Templin said that despite the setbacks, he was excited and anxious to see for the first time what Iraq was like and that above all else he thinks that it’s dusty.

“This has been the greatest experience ever,” said the CH-53 Air Frames Mechanic.  “It doesn’t feel any different than it did back in New River; you’re in a different environment, doing the same thing. It’s just more … important, what we’re doing now. “

While in Iraq the Marines will likely do everything from moving civilian contractors to conducting raids, said Lt. Col. Kevin G. Moss, the commanding officer of HMH-462.

 He went on to say, “I think it’s great, what’s cool about it is our ability to actually pull this off … as a squadron CO, I’m thrilled they’re here.”  He continued to say he hoped that when the 26th MEU Marines load back into the helicopters to leave, "that they’d look back on us and wish they could be a part of us."

All-in-all the words of Lance Cpl. Rachel Myers, CH-53E Air Frames Mechanic, wrap up the attitude of of the newly appointed Heavy Haulers all too well, “It’s game time, you know.”

The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit is currently embarked on the ships of the USS Iwo Jima Strike Group during their deployment abroad in support of the Global War on Terror.

For more information, news, and video on the 26th MEU, visit www.26meu.usmc.mil.