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thedrifter
09-28-07, 08:19 PM
22nd MEU rescues troops stranded in Iraq
Staff report
Posted : Friday Sep 28, 2007 15:30:47 EDT

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — Having a tough time getting a ride home? Call the 22nd MEU.

That’s what about 600 soldiers and airmen in Iraq did recently when the assets that were originally supposed to fly them to Kuwait couldn’t make it because of technical issues and other, critical missions, according to a 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit press release.

The MEU’s aviation combat element gave the soldiers and airmen, elements of the Fort Bragg, N.C.-based 16th Military Police Brigade, a lift out of Iraq in support of a scheduled troop rotation.

The troops, who had been providing security for eight months at Camp Bucca, Iraq, were flown to Camp Buehring, Kuwait, to start their trip home to the U.S.

“This is possibly the best airlift we’ve ever seen,” said Air Force Capt. Thomas McGillicuddy, a troop commander with the 886th Expeditionary Security Force Squadron, in the release. “The Marines were timely, they were efficient — we’ve never seen something like that before. If the Marines hadn’t agreed to take us out, all of us would have been there for another 10 to 13 days, minimum.”

Marines and sailors of the 22nd MEU were conducting sustainment training when they got the call.

While the mission was the priority over the three days it took to bring the mix of military members to Camp Buehring, members of the MEU continued to work on live-fire exercises, convoy training, medical training and further refining their desert combat skills.

“We knew this mission was important, and we knew these airmen and soldiers were in need of a lift, so we had to rearrange some of our planned training,” said Col. Doug Stilwell, the MEU commander. “But, ultimately, this will not interfere with our original intentions of getting plenty of quality training during our stay at Camp Buehring.”

The MEU left Camp Lejeune, N.C., for a routine, six-month deployment July 31 on the ships of the Norfolk, Va.-based Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group. Once the MEU completes training in Kuwait, it is scheduled to rejoin the ships and continue maritime security operations, according to the release.

Ellie