CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- With a warm meal, a sparkling tree and the company of family and friends awaiting them in Hometown USA, the Marines of Combat Service Support Detachment 24 wrapped up their final training exercise of the year Dec. 12.
The weeklong drill, known as TCAT for Type Course Amphibious Training, introduced the Marines to shipboard life and offered them early practice in the art of moving personnel and supplies between ship and shore. CSSD-24 is scheduled to join the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit in February and begin training for the MEU's deployment next summer.
The evolution united CSSD-24 with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marines, and the 10th Marines command element. Naval vessels involved included the USS Trenton, USS Bataan and USS Gunston Hall.
In one exercise highlight, CSSD-24 and HMH-464 teamed up to conduct Helicopter Suspension Training. Aboard the Bataan's flight deck, the Marines of CSSD-24 waited for the first of four CH-53E's to arrive. Each Super Stallion was to hover less than 15 feet above the ship's deck as load-bearing ties, used in this case to secure a Humvee, would be attached to a large metal hook protruding from the helicopter's underbelly. The helicopter would then resume its previous course, transporting the vehicle from sea to land.
The training is designed to hone a critical skill in the transportation of heavy equipment from ship to shore.
As the TCAT exercise wound down, many of the Marines expressed excitement about joining the 24th MEU early next year, even as they acknowledged a more immediate objective -- returning to land for Christmas leave.
With their last training for the year behind them and preparations for an operational deployment ahead of them, the Marines of CSSD-24 will have plenty to celebrate this holiday season.