24th MEU Marines kill time at sea
24th MEU
Story by:Lance Cpl. Jeffrey A. Cosola

USS IWO JIMA(Feb. 10, 2006) -- There’re people who believe that time is always on your side. But, inside the USS Iwo Jima, waiting for the next operation to begin, time feels like the enemy. Finding a way to stalk and kill this brand of enemy is the key to staying motivated at sea.

Whether it’s physically training, watching movies or playing cards, 24th MEU Marines participating in the Expeditionary Strike Group/MEU Integration Training are discovering that ship life has a lot to offer and are successfully taking advantage of the enemy.

“You try to keep a positive mental attitude and an open mind,” said Cpl. Jacob D. Newman, a Logistical Vehicle System operator with MEU Service Support Group 24 and a native of Halls, Tenn. Newman’s time killer is utilizing his personal laptop computer to watch movies; an activity he says is “all a part of our getting mentally prepared for the long voyage ahead.”

However, the biggest draw for Marines looking to kill time at sea is playing Texas Hold ‘Em poker. A Marine can usually find a game going at any time of the day.

“It helps pass the time after working hours,” said Cpl. Travis W. Hawthorne, a training noncommissioned officer-in-charge with MSSG 24. Hawthorne, from Tyler, Texas, carried his playing cards with him recently in Louisiana during SPMAGTF Katrina and prior to that while on deployment in Iraq. “I’d have my cards and chips strapped to my pack and my captain would always ask, ‘What’s that?’ and I’d say, ‘It’s my cards, sir.’ It’s what keeps me sane.”

Marines have spent time playing basketball in the hangar deck, reading books in the library and writing home – all activities that, according to Cpl. Lawrence R. Wrenn, a basic motor transport operator with MSSG 24, “make it easier on the Marines.”

Time may not always be on their side, and Marines don’t always get what they may want, but sometimes, Marines are finding, you just have to do things to pass the time and stay mission capable.

The 24th MEU is composed of its Command Element; Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment; Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 365 (Reinforced); and MEU Service Support Group 24.

The 24th MEU is set to participate in its premier pre-deployment training event later this month, a two-week Training in an Urban Environment exercise, or TRUEX , in Hampton Roads, Va. The MEU is scheduled to deploy this spring to the European and Central Command theaters of operations.

Ellie