22nd MEU supports OEF with Osprey transfer
By Capt. Clark D. Carpenter, 22nd MEU
Photo by Chief Petty Officer Tony Sisti
On Nov. 6, 2009, The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit flew 10 MV-22B Ospreys from multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The aircraft, part of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced), will be transferred to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 and serve as part of 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade’s Aviation Combat Element.
The 22nd MEU was the first Marine Expeditionary Unit to conduct a ship-based deployment with the tiltrotor aircraft. VMM-263 (Rein) attached to the MEU in September, 2008, and was also the first squadron to deploy with the aircraft to Iraq in 2007.
“It is a great honor for us to support 2d MEB and we are proud to be the first unit to bring this aircraft into Afghanistan,” said Col. Gareth F. Brandl, 22nd MEU commanding officer. “We have spent more than a year working with the MV-22B and know that the added capabilities this aircraft brings will benefit the Marines currently engaged against the enemy.”
The Ospreys flew off in three waves making the 510 NM flight in just over two hours. During the aircraft’s first amphibious deployment, it flew in support of theater security cooperation events in three countries, including U.S. Central Command’s largest exercise, Exercise Bright Star 2009 in Egypt.
The Osprey was used to conduct multiple medical-evacuations from ship to shore and was employed to conduct logistics flights to Rota, Spain; Naval Air Station, Sigonella (Sicily); Djibouti, Africa; and Bahrain. For more than a month, the squadron supported desert training when the MEU trained ashore in Camp Buehring, Kuwait.
“The men and women of the squadron performed admirably in support this mission,” said Lt. Col. Paul P. Ryan, commanding officer of VMM-263 (Rein). “I am convinced that this weapon system will serve the operating forces well for decades to come.”
Ryan added that the MEU has learned a great deal about operating with the Osprey, and throughout the deployment, has captured lessons learned to support future tiltrotor squadrons as they begin to deploy with other MEUs.
The 22nd MEU deployed May 15, 2009, aboard the ships of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group. The unit made the transatlantic voyage into the Mediterranean Sea where it conducted training in Greece and Bulgaria. The MEU has since supported four theater security cooperation events with Middle Eastern military partners and conducted sustainment training in Kuwait.
The 22nd MEU, led by Brandl, is a scalable, multi-purpose force of more than 2,200 Marines and Sailors. The unit is composed of its Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment (commanded by Lt. Col. Robert C. Fulford); Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced) (commanded by Lt. Col. Paul P. Ryan); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22 (commanded by Lt. Col. Gary F. Keim); and its Command Element. (Nov. 2009)