CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Nearly 400 Marines will arrive in the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast this weekend, part of a specially tailored task force formed to aid rapidly expanding relief efforts.
Approximately 80 Marines from the headquarters of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit will fly Saturday to Belle Chasse Naval Air Station, a reserve base southeast of New Orleans. Their immediate objective will be to establish a capability to command and control follow-on forces.
Ten Marines arrived at Belle Chasse late Thursday to assess the base’s ability to support a larger force. Twenty more Marines are due to arrive today.
Additionally, more than 300 Marines from Combat Service Support Detachment 24 will sail aboard two naval vessels, the USS Shreveport and the USS Whidbey Island. They’ll take with them a wide array of equipment well-suited for humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief operations. Included are water-purification devices, seven-ton trucks, dump trucks, fork lifts, generators, and humvees.
The Marines en route this weekend will join a sizeable number already in the region. About 120 Marines from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing arrived Thursday, adding eight transport helicopters to the task force’s swelling aviation component. Marine air assets now in the region include 10 CH-53E heavy-lift helicopters, 2 CH-46E medium-lift helicopters and three UH-1N utility helicopters.
In addition, the aviation element will include dedicated support from at least eight of the highly versatile KC-130 transport aircraft.
Col. John Shook, who will lead the Marine task force, promised a robust contribution and said that the sense of urgency at Camp Lejeune, where most of the Marines are based, could not be higher.
“Marines are on the way,” he said. “Our countrymen are in trouble, and we’re ready and eager to help.”
For more information, contact Capt. David Nevers at 910-548-8008 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.