Operation Distant Runner - Rwanda/Burundi - Page 3
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  1. #31
    Hey Devil dog, your Reference to 'the Trailer Plt" is incorrect, it was 2/5's TRAP Plt. Lead by Lt Keppler.
    I was asleep in my bottom rack in the SNCO area of Weapons Company 2/5 berthing area on the USS Tarawa. I remember waking up to the whole ship shaking. I noticed the lights were on. I opened my curtain and a Cpl was walking between the bunks looking for TRAP Team leader bunks, he said they wanted us to report up to the MEU S-2 for briefing asap (I think it was like 0300). The Tarawa was headed south at flank speed.
    I remember when they mentioned Rwanda and Burundi, (having never heard of either of them) the presidents of those countries and peace talks during the brief. I thought to myself this sounds like a plot in a movie, the names sounded like made up names for a movie (LOL).
    We flew on 46’s to an airport near Mombasa Kenya. They staged us in a hanger for a couple of hours I think. I remember something about changing our cami’s from desert to greens.
    The refueling planes arrived and we boarded, most of the plane inside was taken up with the massive tank, I remember thinking wow the smoking lamp is differently out!
    I also remember conducting the refueling of the 53’s in the air near Mount Kilimanjaro, we were able to look out a small window that was on the aircraft door near the rear of the plane. We could see Mount Kilimanjaro in the back ground, what a sight, will never forget it.
    I was the 3rd team Leader, we were Sparrow Level, 15 man teams. We were well trained and well equipped.
    I remember being impressed when we first arrived at the airport by the COMM guys, they set-up their COMM gear (out on the upstairs open patio) and what looked like a little satellite dish (olive-drab of course), the Marine (looked like a sharp LCpl) handed the handset to the COL and said, "State Department Sir". All in less than five (5) minutes upon arrival, I found that very impressive.

    At one point, they ordered my team onto a plane, they were going to put us in the air over the extraction route of the foreign nationals that we were sent there to bring out, it would give a us a quicker response if something went wrong with the actual extraction. There was something about the Dutch Forces located at the Airport in Rwanda were not allowed to operate outside that airports perimeter. If needed would land and move beyond that perimeter if needed. We moved out to the tarmac loaded onto the plane. But then Hillary's PC Policy people change their minds, we were ordered to stand down. We went back to our staging area, which was in an upstairs hallway of the terminal.
    My team was aboard the CH-53’s on the return trip. During the refuel the entire aircraft had a strong smell of fuel. No one can hear anything inside a 53 when it’s airborne. One of my Marines got airsick and I signaled to the crew chief, then using hand and arm signals, I made the crew chief realize that the Marine next to me was going to “Ralph” he brought me a trash bag for him to use. But this may have made things worse, it was a transparent trash bag. I looked at the crew chief who went back up to his position in the front of the aircraft and threw my hands up in the air with an expression “WTF”, he looked at us and laughed.
    These are just some of the memories I had from Operation Distant Runner!

  2. #32

    I was the Armorer (2111) for Golf Battery 2/11....I had to change my ID when promoted to Cpl so I got to spend a couple days aboard the Peleliu...I hung out with a buddy I went to Boot Camp with and ran into on the Peleiu....a Cpl Williams with 2/5...cant remember what Co he was with...Its been so long...he was also from Chicago.
    I also got to meet and hang out with Sgt Major Garcia...what a HardCharger he is !!!!
    If you have an 11th MEU book im on pg 113 in the pic titled Ammo/Ord/Mims/Supply second from the right top...im in quite a few pic from 113 to 119.....alot of good memories !!!!

  3. #33
    Engineer here, started out on the Anchorage and then got attached to weapons company aboard the Peleliu. I remember Sgt Charamie giving an impromptu class on the 50 one day in the area right there at the head where the tv room was located. From what I can remember he really knew his stuff. Made me want to become a sniper. Almost made it. !st CEB had two slots for snipers but our battalion CO would never approve them because we were always with a unit that had snipers. Oh and I was one of those bastards that had to ride on the 53 into Burundi. I hope all that went with us on the trek are all okay today. Stay safe wrap that rascal and when you come back we will punch a few bores for STDS!

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