22nd MEU Assumes Operational
Control Its Major Subordinate Elements
Submitted by: 22nd MEU
Story Identification Number:
Story by Gunnery Sgt. Keith A. Milks
CAMP LEJEUNE, NC (Dec. 15, 2002) -- The 22nd
Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) assumed operational and planning
control of its major subordinate elements (MSEs) Dec. 15, a major
step in preparing for its deployment next summer as the landing
force for the U.S. Sixth Fleet.
Beginning in January, the MEU and its MSEs will start its
pre-deployment training that begins with a number of courses
sponsored by the II Marine Expeditionary Force's Special Operations
Training Group (SOTG). Such courses include, but are not limited to,
helicopter and mechanized raids, the tactical recovery of aircraft
and personnel, dynamic entry and close quarters battle, and boat
raids. SOTG will evaluate the MEU's progress during a series of
exercises that will culminate in a Special Operations Capable
At the helm of the MEU is Col. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., a 1979
Citadel graduate who assumed command of the unit in early October.
McKenzie, whose most recent assignment was with the Plans, Policies
and Operations Branch at Headquarters Marine Corps, has commanded
Marines at the platoon, company and battalion levels, including a
stint as a MEU battalion landing team commander.
Approximately one quarter of the 22nd MEU Command Element's Marines
and Sailors who deployed with LF6F2-02 will remain with the unit to
provide much-needed continuity for the upcoming deployment. In
addition to its staff sections, the Command Element also consists of
the MEU's Force Reconnaissance platoon, counter- and signals
intelligence specialists, a Marine Liaison Element detachment, and a
MEU Personnel Administrative Center.
The 1st Bn., 2d Marines will supply the MEU's main punch as its
Ground Combat Element (GCE). Led by Lt. Col. Rickey Grabowski, the
unit has seen operational service in the 'Banana Wars,' World War
II, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Dominican Republic intervention,
and Operations Desert Shield/Storm, Eastern Exit and later, Continue
Hope in Somalia, and Sea Signal in Cuba.
Detachments from throughout the 2nd Marine Division will reinforce
1/2; including the 2d Assault Amphibian Bn., 2nd Tank Bn., 10th
Marine Regiment, and 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Bn.
Providing the MEU with its air arm is Marine Medium Helicopter 162
(HMM-162). The Aviation Combat Element's (ACE's) current commanding
officer, Lt. Col. Robert F. Hedulund, is scheduled to relinquish
command of the unit to Lt. Col. Darrell Thacker in min-January. No
stranger to the 22nd MEU, Thacker most recently completed two
deployments with the unit; one as its executive officer and one as
the ACE executive officer.
Since its activation in 1951, the squadron has participated in
military operations throughout the world, including stints in
Vietnam, Operations Nimbus Moon/Star in Cyprus, peacekeeping efforts
in Beirut, Operations Sharp Edge and Assured/Quick Response in
Liberia, Provide Comfort in northern Iraq, Restore Hope in Somalia,
numerous operations in the Balkans, Autumn Shelter in the Congo, and
Silver Wake in Albania.
Additional aircraft from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing will bolster
the squadron's organic CH-46E Sea Knights including CH-53E Super
Stallion, AH-1W Super Cobra, UH-1N Huey helicopters, and AV-8B
Harrier II attack jets.
Although it has experienced nearly a 100 percent turn-over in
staffing, MEU Service Support Group 22 will again deploy as the
Combat Service Support Element (CSSE), this time commanded by Lt.
Col. Thomas N. Goben. Charged with providing maintenance, landing
support, medical and dental care, motor transport and a host of
other specialized skills, MSSG-22 has provided support to the 22nd
MEU for nearly 20 years, active in the unit's humanitarian and
The 22nd MEU will embark aboard the amphibious ships USS Saipan,
Ponce, and Gunston Hall. As part of the newly-conceived
Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG), the MEU will also deploy with a
small flotilla of Navy combatants including a cruiser, destroyer,
frigate, and attack submarine, all with permanent support from P3C
Orion surveillance aircraft.
During its most recent deployment, the 22nd MEU undertook a number
of counter-/anti-terrorist operations in the Horn of Africa, Persian
Gulf, and south Asia regions, and also missions in Afghanistan, a
regional stability tasking, and extensive humanitarian operations in
Djibouti, now a hotbed of II MEF activity.
For more information on the 22nd MEU, visit the unit's website at