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II MEF CG visits 24th MEU, USS Saipan during ESGINT

5 Apr 2004 | Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

The Commanding General of II Marine Expeditionary Force, Lt. Gen. H. P. "Pete" Osman paid a visit to the Marines and Sailors of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and USS Saipan (LHA-2) April 5.

The general was greeted by the commander of Amphibious Squadron 2, Capt. C.B. Chase, the commander of the 24th MEU, Col. Ronald J. Johnson, and captain of the USS Saipan, Capt. C.A. Hase.

He visited the ship just as the MEU was at the heart of its Expeditionary Strike Group/MEU Integration exercise as part of its Pre-Deployment Training Program.

During his visit to the ship, the general took time to talk to the Marines and sailors about their pre-deployment training and their upcoming deployment. He urged Marines and Sailors to work together, to "jell as a team" and to be ready.

"I know which direction you are headed," said Osman. "Once you get out there, I don't know exactly where you are going, but I can guarantee you one thing: you will be operationally committed."

He also took a tour of the ship, getting a close-up view of the key workspaces, some of the MEU's new equipment, and a fast-rope demonstration by the Marines of Alpha Company, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Bn., 2nd Marines -- the Ground Combat Element of the 24th MEU.

Expeditionary Strike Group Four wraps up its nine-day exercise April 7.  After a short rest over the Easter weekend, the Marines and sailors return to work and begin to focus on their upcoming urban-training exercise, set for the first three weeks of May in and around Morgantown, W.V.

Meanwhile, once the Saipan and its sister ships - the USS Trenton and USS Oak Hill - drop the MEU off at Camp Lejeune, they and the rest of the Saipan Strike Group will steam north toward their homeport at Norfolk, Va.