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Col. Frank Donovan, the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit's commanding officer, speaks to all in attendance during the MEU's activation ceremony at W.P.T. Hill Field, Camp Lejeune, N.C., Sept. 29. The ceremony served as an opportunity for Donovan to address the Marines and sailors of his command and their families. The ceremony was held to officially composite the 24th MEU with its subordinate units Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, and Combat Logistics Battalion 24.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Michael Petersheim

24th Marine Expeditionary Unit forms for training, deployment

29 Sep 2011 | Capt. Robert Shuford 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit held an activation ceremony today at Camp Lejeune’s W.P.T. Hill Field officially signaling the unit’s preparation for deployment as the unit grew from its standing headquarters of approximately 100 Marines and sailors to a Marine Air-Ground Task Force of 2,200 as the MEU took charge of its three major subordinate elements.

The activation formally launches an intensive six-month pre-deployment training cycle designed to prepare the MEU for a host of possible missions ranging from full-scale combat to disaster relief.

Joining the MEU command element for the next year are its designated air, ground and logistics components; Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2th Marine Regiment, and Combat Logistics Battalion 24.

During the ceremony each of the newly joined units participated in a formation set up various displays of equipment, vehicles, and weapons for family and friends to learn about the MEU team.

“Today we officially formed our team – a team of our various Marine units, our team with the Navy, and most importantly with our families who are joining the MEU,” said Col. Frank Donovan, 24th MEU’s commanding officer.

The MEU will conduct a variety of exercises over the next six months with their Navy counterpart Amphibious Squadron 8, commonly called PHIBRON 8, which is made up of three amphibious assault ships; USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), USS New York (LPD 21), and USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44). The Marines will be embarked on these ships and deploy with PHIBRON 8 sometime early next year.

The 24th MEU last deployed from January-August 2010. During this time 24th MEU participated in earthquake relief efforts in Haiti during Operation Unified Response, and deployed to the Central Command area of operations and participated in numerous training exercises and theater security cooperation events with partnered countries throughout the Middle East and Djibouti, Africa. In the Mediterranean the 24th MEU participated in liberty port calls in Italy, Croatia, Turkey, Greece and Spain.

The ceremony served as a chance to educate friends and families of 24th MEU about what they can expect over the coming months and through their deployment.

“This was a great opportunity to showcase what a MEU is and to help our families visualize and gain an understanding of the uniqueness of a MEU,” said Donovan. “I’m very thankful so many family members were here.”

Donovan assumed command of the unit in May. The subordinate element commanders are: Lt. Col. David B. Sosa, commanding officer, BLT 1/2; LtCol. Brian C. Smith Jr., commanding officer VMM-261 (Reinforced); and LtCol. Daniel J. Bradley, commanding officer CLB-24.

The first major exercise 24th MEU will conduct at sea is called PHIBRON/MEU Integration, or PMINT, and is scheduled to run the last two weeks of October into the first week of November.