By Lance Cpl. Timothy Childers , 15th MEU
The Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group faces a full-sized logistical challenge every time they prepare to leave port. One team of Marines accepts that challenge and ensures all vehicles, supplies and personnel for ship-to-shore operations are embarked and ready to go.
Eighty-eight Marines were selected from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit to become a part of the ARG’s Combat Cargo teams that are responsible for all inbound and outbound cargo and personnel the USS Peleliu, USS Green Bay and USS Rushmore receive during exercises and, in the near future, a Western-Pacific deployment.
The Marines joined their teams in May, and have been living on the ship since then, to ensure all necessities are planned out, manifested and loaded. However, their work does not stop there. The teams are also responsible for the accountability of Marines who travel by aircraft and landing craft between the three ships and ashore.
“Combat Cargo is in charge of anything inbound or outbound to the ship, whether that is cargo, mail or personnel,” said Sgt. Shannon D. Jones, platoon sergeant, Combat Cargo, Ship’s Company, USS Peleliu. “We have over 400 pieces of cargo that includes vehicles, [storage containers], equipment and aircraft. We can load everything within three days before departing,” said the 26 year-old McRae, Ark., native.
While at sea, the Marines operate on the flight deck and in the well deck. On the flight deck, the team monitors flight plans, receives manifests, guides servicemembers to and from aircraft, maintains order and takes accountability of aircraft.
In the well deck, where landing crafts bring cargo and personnel from the sea into the ship’s hull, the team is responsible for guiding vehicles and equipment, the organization of the cargo bays, embarkation and debarkation of the landing crafts and manifestation of personnel on the craft. They also work together with embarkation Marines to create a load plan that organizes the placement of cargo.
“My team guides vehicles into place where we’re directed to do so,” said Lance Cpl. Luis A. Medina, a Marine with Combat Cargo, Ship’s Co., USS Peleliu. “We plan the placement of the vehicles so when they’re needed, they can be loaded fast enough to hit the beach on time.” Medina, is from Hollywood, Calif.
Combat Cargo also has a range of other duties that are essential for mission planning and success.
“I maintain the ship’s landing characteristic pamphlet,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Kemp, combat cargo officer, Combat Cargo, Ship’s Co., USS Peleliu. The SLCP depicts the ship’s details including capabilities, troop regulations, conduct and duties. The team then ensures requests can be fulfilled by advising the Command Element of a mission’s requirements and the ship’s capabilities, added Kemp, 38, from Columbia, S.C.
This small team of Marines successfully ensures when the call comes in and the mission begins, the MEU will have what it needs and can be sure it is capable and ready to succeed.