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TCAT Prepares CSSD-24 for Upcoming Deployment

12 Dec 2003 | Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

More than 130 Marines and Sailors from Combat Service Support Detachment 24 completed Type Course Amphibious Training aboard the USS Trenton and the USS Bataan Dec. 8-12.

The training allowed the Marines to familiarize themselves with the process of deploying to a ship and with life aboard a ship. The unit is scheduled to attach to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit as MEU Service Support Group 24 in February and will deploy with the MEU next summer.

"The main benefit of this training for my section was it allowed us to see the architecture on the USS Trenton and figure out the best way that we could support the [Landing Force Shore Party] ashore," said 1st Lt. Robert Sholtis, communications officer and Union Town, Pa. native. "It also allows us to know what to expect" working from shore to ship and ship to shore.

The exercise also benefited the Marines of the Landing Support and Embarkation sections by allowing them to put into practice the plans and procedures needed for moving such a unit to ship.

The Landing Support Marines were responsible for the movement of vehicles, supplies and troops from Camp Lejeune's Red Beach to each ship via Landing Craft Air Cushion or Landing Craft Utility.

"We have a lot of new Marines out here and this allows them to see what being on float is like," said Sgt. Francisco Santiago, Landing Support platoon sergeant and Springfield, Mass., native.

Once everything and everyone was loaded aboard, the Marines from CSSD-24 spent the next several days getting accustomed to life aboard ship.

Sailors from each ship taught shipboard procedures, such as what to do if a man goes overboard and the proper way to abandon the ship if needed.

Drivers from the Transportation Support Detachment, with help from the Marines and sailors of the ship's Combat Cargo Section, also spent a few hours driving their vehicles from an LCU in the well deck of the ship to the vehicle storage areas. Once the vehicles were in the storage areas, the Marines practiced securing them for sea travel by properly chaining them to the deck.

"This training was great for my drivers," said Staff Sgt. Roger Augustus, Motor Transport Chief and Auburndale, Fla., native. "For most of them, this is their first time on ship. Now they know what it is like to offload from an LCU, and will be able to help out some of the other drivers when we have to do this for real."

Along with the ship-procedure classes and driver training, the CSSD-24 Marines also conducted a few other classes such as proper first-aid techniques. Additionally, the Marines were treated to an unanticipated taste of life on ship during rough seas, as a severe storm tore through Eastern North Carolina during the middle of the week.

Finally, after spending their first few days getting oriented to the ship, the Marines packed their gear while the Landing Support and Embark Marines moved all personnel and equipment back to shore.

With TCAT successfully completed, the Marines from CSSD-24 will take leave for the holidays and begin preparing to join the 24th MEU.