HMM - 162

22d MEU stands guard
Submitted by: 22nd MEU
Story Identification Number: 2001213104834
Story by 1st Lt. Mikal A. Rasheed

CARTAGENA, Spain(Jan. 26, 2001) -- As the Marines and Sailors of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) pull into Cartagena, sight-seeing, shopping and sampling exotic dishes aren't on the agenda of every shipmate.

A number of Marines stand duty each day the USS Nassau is in port to ensure that their brothers in arms have a fun, safe and uneventful port visit.
" We look forward to visiting different cities in Europe." shared Staff Sgt. Mark D. Gifford, of Johnstown New York. "However, our main purpose is to be a force in readiness," revealed the disbursing chief from the MEU Service Support Group 22," and standing duty is more important than seeing the city."

Assignments can range from maintaining accountability of those who leave the ship to cooking free hamburgers and hotdogs for the war fighters who wish to stay on the pier for the evening.

"I don't particularly mind standing duty" explained Charlotte, NC's Sgt. Anthony Chapman, who pulled shore patrol in Brindisi, Italy. The maintenance administration noncommissioned officer in charge for Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron- 162 had duty during the MEU's holiday period in Italy.

"On shore patrol, you get to see a lot more of the town than your average Marine on liberty" related the Carolinian. "You get to see a little bit of everything because you're given such a wide area to cover.'

Duty is a part of every normal liberty port visit. The Nassau always keeps enough of its sailors aboard to go underway, in a hurry if necessary. The Marines always maintain a watch to keep track of who is in town and how long they've been gone. The MEU also have Marines standing watch within their individual sections as well.

"I've been the OOD (Officer of the Day) for the MSSG in every port we've been to," stated Gifford, who has been in the Marine Corps for fourteen years and a former drill instructor.

The commanders focus on the bigger picture. Capt. Robert Redmond is the operations officer for the MSSG-22 and its senior officer aboard the Nassau.

"It's important that we keep our eyes and ears open" stated Redmond, who calls Custer, Kentucky home. "Not only are we visitors and guests, we are ambassadors for the United States. We must place our best foot forward every time we step ashore... and have someone here to deconflict when we don't"

The MEU's Leathernecks have had no major need for deconfliction thus far. Between tours, the wonderful recreational sights and shopping opportunities that Brindisi, Italy, Malta, Palma and Cartagena, offered, Devil Dogs and Sea Rats alike have fully occupied their time.

The ship's staff provides briefs on what to expect in the city, available tours, and where to go in town. The entire package ensures that the warriors are aptly armed for an enjoyable stay.

From 26-30 January, the Nassau Amphibious Ready Group and the Marines and Sailors of the 22d MEU (SOC) enjoyed many tourist sites at their respective Spanish liberty ports. The USS Nassau moored pier-side in Cartagena. The USS Nashville docked in Palma while the USS Portland continued its stay in Barcelona.

For additional information regarding the 22nd MEU (SOC), visit our website at www.usmc.mil@22meu.