CAMP LEJEUNE --
Marines and sailors of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) have returned to Camp Lejeune after providing support to Operation Allies Welcome on Fort Pickett, Virginia Dec. 15, 2021.
Since September 11th, 2021, the 26th MEU and Task Force Pickett was responsible for providing safety and security for approximately 10,000 Afghan evacuees beginning a new life in the United States. The Marines and Sailors helped ensure Afghan evacuees received essential support for day-to-day living, supported their initial resettlement, and enhanced overall quality of life.
During the last week, the 26th MEU conducted a Relief in Place with 23rd Marine Regiment, headquartered in San Bruno, California. More than 900 Marines from 23rd Marine Regiment will assume command and control of Task Force Pickett’s mission. The team consists of elements of the 1st and 2nd Battalion, as well as, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment.
“23d Marines is incredibly proud to join Task Force Pickett,” said Col. Quintin Jones, regimental commander, 23d Marines. “We have a lot of work ahead of us, but our team is ready and capable of accomplishing this whole-of-government mission alongside our joint and interagency partners.”
Task Force Pickett is one of eight installations part of Operation Allies Welcome, a mission to provide Afghan individuals temporary housing, sustainment, and support inside the United States.
“The Marines and Sailors of the 26th MEU are proud to have served as part of Task Force Picket in support of Operation Allies Welcome. This is an important mission,” said Col. Dennis W. Sampson, the commanding officer of the 26th MEU. “Years from now these evacuees will remember the Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers and share stories about their first interactions they had after arriving in America.”
Aside from their assigned duties, the Marines and sailors also volunteered to teach Afghan individuals a variety of subjects to include English lessons, American culture, and other classes to help facilitate their resettlement. Furthermore, they hosted several recreational activities and facilitated visits by outside organizations to host events for the guests.
“As we redeploy, I am extremely proud of the exceptional performance and professionalism of all who participated in our collective endeavor in support of Operation Allies Welcome. This deployment showcased the relevancy and flexibility of a Marine Expeditionary Unit. The 26th MEU will build upon the lessons learned as part of this joint, interagency task force and continue to hone our warfighting skillsets moving forward to ensure the 26th MEU remains “A Certain Force in an Uncertain World…” concluded Sampson.