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31st MEU returns home after historic deployment

By Marine Corps Cpl. Bernadette Wildes | 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit | April 24, 2018

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WHITE BEACH NAVAL FACILITY, Okinawa, Japan (April 21, 2018) – The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and Amphibious Squadron 11, embarked aboard the ships of the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, completed Spring Patrol 2018 - a regularly-scheduled patrol of the Indo-Pacific region - and have returned to White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, April 21, 2018.

The 31st MEU is a forward-deployed, flexible air-ground-logistics team capable of accomplishing a wide range of military operations.
In a historic first, the 31st MEU embarked a detachment of F-35B Lightning IIs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, marking the F-35B’s first operational deployment with a MEU.

“It was an honor to deploy this capable aircraft and make history with the 31st MEU,” said Lt. Col. Richard Rusnok, VMFA-121 commanding officer. “The F-35B is a fantastic aircraft that brings a variety of new capabilities to the MEU, making a more lethal and effective Marine Air-Ground Task Force.”

The 31st MEU conducted a variety of amphibious operations during the exercise, including mechanized and helo-borne raids, simulated noncombatant evacuation operations and humanitarian assistance-disaster relief missions – all launched from the sea.

Over the last six months, the 31st MEU and PHIBRON 11 conducted a continuous series of unit-level training exercises, including MEU Exercise, Amphibious Integration Training and the MEU’s final training evolution, Certification Exercise. Marines and Sailors performed MEUEX and AIT to refine their mission planning and execution abilities, ensuring that during CERTEX the 31st MEU/ PHIBRON 11 team could work efficiently on short notice. With the completion of CERTEX, the 31st MEU is certified as fully capable of responding to crises in the U.S. Pacific Command area of responsibility.

“Although it was a short patrol, we were able to accomplish a lot,” said Col. Tye R. Wallace, the commanding officer of the 31st MEU. “Our commitment to regular training with the Navy ensures our Sailors and Marines are prepared for any contingency.”

Year after year, the 31st MEU maintains its operational capabilities at a constant state of readiness. Whether afloat or in garrison, the 31st MEU is always ready to respond to crisis.

“It’s always good to return home to Okinawa,” said Wallace. “While we’re home we are going to quickly reset the force and then give the Marines a few days off to be with their families. We will remain vigilant as a crisis response force, ready to get back on ship and deploy wherever we’re needed at a moments notice.”
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