NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, Va. -- With a deployment looming for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, the main focus is on their Training in an Urban Environment Exercise, currently underway in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. Even so, the Marines found time to tend to America’s future first.
The Marines hosted a group of Boy Scouts from local troops 196 and 45 on Feb. 28, guests of the MEU’s host, Lt. Col. Joseph Whitaker, commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 42, Det. B, whose hangar the MEU is using to house its combat operations center.
Whitaker began the tour by showing the scouts a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter. The scouts were able to walk through the aircraft, sit in the pilot’s seat, and have their questions answered by Whitaker, who is a CH-46E pilot.
According to Whitaker, the tour was a way for his unit to thank the community for its support of his Marines. Allowing the young scouts to meet and talk to members of the 24th MEU also enhanced the experience for the visiting Marines them.
Charles Robson, a scoutmaster for 37 years, and scoutmaster for Troop ??? takes his boys on field trips like this once a month to make sure his scouts get to see as much as they can of the world around them.
“I think it’s wonderful for us to be able to see the helicopters and how a MEU operates,” said Robson.
While visiting the MEU, the boys were given the opportunity to see how the MEU’s Combat Operations Center operates and watch the COC personnel track vehicles and keep tabs on all of the MEU’s assets.
“It is an awesome tour. I saw helicopters and stuff today, and we saw some ships and submarines yesterday,” said Justin Farry, a sixth-grader from Troop 45 and an aspiring Eagle Scout.
“This is the first stop in our tour, and so far it’s been extraordinary,” said 12-year-old Billy Tobin, whose father is a retired Marine.
The 24 MEU will be based at Naval Station Norfolk for the duration of the TRUEX, the MEU’s first fully integrated exercise in its pre-deployment training program. The MEU is scheduled to deploy in the spring.