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Corporal James Pais, a section leader for Company G, steals one last kiss from his wife, Rosa, before departing for a seven-month deployment with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit May 5, 2011. Aa pair of Marines inside the bus held Pais' feet so he could reach his wife without falling out.

Photo by Cpl. Andrew D. Thorburn

‘War Dogs’ depart for 31st MEU

5 Jun 2011 | Cpl. Andrew D. Thorburn

After months of preparation and training, the Marines and sailors of  2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, departed in the early morning light June 5, 2011, to join the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, for their upcoming deployment. 

While serving as the battalion landing team for the 31st MEU, which is the nation’s only continually forward-deployed MEU, the “War Dogs” are slated to conduct exercises and operations with multiple allied countries.

Their mission will include Operation Tuscan Saber in Australia, and exercises in the Philippines and South Korea, said 1st Lt. Garrett B. Shaw, a platoon commander for the unit.

In addition to the operations and exercises in the Pacific, the 31st MEU, including BLT 2/7, will be ready to respond to any humanitarian or contingency crises.

During their pre-deployment exercises, the Marines’ and sailors’ training ranged from amphibious landings to helicopter maneuvers. They were also given multiple classes on how to prepare themselves for the long time away from loved ones, said 2nd Lt. Jeffery Medeiros, a battalion assistant logistics officer with 2/7.

“I think they are very well prepared,” said Carrie Johnson, 2/7’s Family Readiness Officer.

Johnson said she and several volunteers are committed to helping the families during the deployment.

“I have a really good team of volunteer spouses who have a lot of ideas of events and things to do,” Johnson said. “One of the biggest things we have going on is the ‘Walk to Okinawa.’ The ladies and parents are planning on doing a walk for how many miles it is to Okinawa and back. There is a webpage to blog and post their times and a tracker for the miles that have been walked. Our first local walk will be June 16 at the Physical Fitness Test course.”

Despite the sadness many obviously felt in bidding farewell to their loved ones before boarding the buses, the unit’s morale was upbeat.

“[Their spirits are] extremely high, they are excited to deploy,” Shaw said. “Everybody is looking forward to getting out and shaking hands with other countries.”

The Marines and sailors of 2/7 will finish their deployment and return to their loved ones in the beginning of next year.

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