MSSG-24 plays vital part at TRUEX

17 May 2002 | 2nd Lt. Cameron Wilson

They move behind the curtain and in the shadows performing their duties, without any expectation for praise. Often referred to as a mile wide and an inch deep, Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group 24 (MSSG) is a representation of all the elements of the 2d Force Service Support Group (FSSG). However, the 24th MEU would not be the force it is without the extraordinary efforts of MSSG-24.  Whether it is putting up tents, showers, or wiring electricity, the MSSG provides the combat service support to the MEU so they can focus on their mission.

Here, in a training area on base, the MSSG was assigned the mission of building a base camp for 600 Marines in a period of 10 days - they finished it in five. The advance party arrived with a robust 23 Marines on April 29, and they began building once the equipment was delivered on May 1.

In addition to MSSG-24, there were Seabees from the 74th Naval Mobile Construction Battalion, Gulfport, Miss., working alongside the Marines. "They've been great. Those people are workaholics," said Cpl. Leonard P. Pray III, electrician, MSSG-24, of the Seabees. "They will work 24/7. We also have a great relationship with them."

Initially it took an hour and a half to put up the new tents," said Capt. Jose L. Mercado Jr., camp commandant, Base Camp Warrior. "Soon after learning how to put them up, though, it took the Marines only 20 minutes."

Previously they had used Standard General Purpose (GP) tents that fit approximately 10 Marines. The new Modular GP tents can fit 16 Marines comfortably, and they have the capability of being attached to another tent.
Combat engineers equipped each tent with lights, an electrical outlet, and decking.

There are over 60 tents, and two shower units. One shower unit holds 21 showerheads, and the other unit holds 12 showerheads. In addition, there are 18 sinks where everyone can shave.

When asked what it takes to put a camp like this together, Sgt. Jerald S. Seese, platoon sergeant, Engineer Detachment, MSSG-24 said, "If we have a layout of the land, and the land is good, the rest is just a matter of throwing it up." Seese, who hails from Edenton, N.C., said the training is always beneficial to the Marines.

"Getting everyone in one area for the billeting and providing electricity was a big challenge," said Staff Sgt. Matt B. Bishop, Engineer Detachment chief, MSSG-24.

Bishop, a Johnson City, Tenn. native, said that because the MSSG is tasked with humanitarian assistance missions, this training is extremely valuable.

The Marines and Seabees worked long days to put the camp up, and they continue making improvements upon it until they will take it down once the exercise ends.

"What these Marines and Seabees did to facilitate an operation like TRUEX allowed the rest of the Marines and sailors to drop their bags, get situated, and focus on the operation without worrying about swinging a hammer or putting tents together," said Mercado, a Collegeville, Pa. native.

"The performance of the MSSG during TRUEX has been superlative," said Col. Richard P. Mills, commanding officer, 24th MEU. "This exercise has unique, complicated and demanding logistical support requirements and MSSG has met every challenge. This support allows the operators to maximize the great training opportunities."