5,000 Marines, sailors return from 7-month deployment

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NORTH PACIFIC OCEAN (May 3, 2021) – U.S. Marines with 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit board an MV-22 Osprey, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 164 (Reinforced), 15th MEU, prior to departing the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) in support of Northern Edge 2021. Approximately 15,000 U.S. service members are participating in a joint training exercise hosted by U.S. Pacific Air Forces May 3-14, 2021, on and above the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, the Gulf of Alaska, and temporary maritime activities area. NE21 is one in a series of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command exercises designed to sharpen the joint forces’ skills; to practice tactics, techniques, and procedures; to improve command, control and communication relationships; and to develop cooperative plans and programs. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael J. Lieberknecht)

OCEANSIDE, Calif. — More than 5,000 military members return to San Diego this weekend following a seven-month deployment around the world.

The U.S. Navy sailors and Marines make up the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, which deployed Nov. 10 following a pre-deployment sequester and back-to-back at-sea exercises in October.

Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit will be the first to return to their San Diego homeport. They arrived off the coast Friday before disembarking at Camp Pendleton.

USS Makin Island (LHD 8), USS San Diego (LPD 22) and USS Somerset (LPD 25) will return to port at Naval Base San Diego following the offload and a contingent of 15th MEU personnel will remain aboard ARG shipping for the pier side arrival, a military spokesperson said.

They are returning to San Diego following a seven-month deployment to the U.S. 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th Fleet areas of operation. During the deployment, sailors and Marines supported Operation Octave Quartz in Somalia, Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria, Theater Amphibious Combat Rehearsals in Kuwait and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Exercise Northern Edge 2021 in Alaska.

The ARG-MEU conducted more than 10,000 hours of flight operations, 6,800 launch and recoveries, and traveled more than 135,000 nautical miles of open ocean and restricted water transits.

“The 15th MEU and Makin Island ARG deployed during an unprecedented pandemic and demonstrated the ability of the Navy and Marine Corps team to successfully and safely execute operations in a COVID-19 environment,” Col. Fridrik Fridriksson, 15th MEU commanding officer, said. “I am so incredibly proud of the professionalism, toughness and mental resiliency demonstrated by our Marines and Sailors. They have accomplished great things during this deployment.”

The Makin Island ARG is made up of amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island and amphibious transport dock ships USS San Diego and USS Somerset and led by Commander, Amphibious Squadron THREE.

The 15th MEU consists of the Command Element; the Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 164 (Reinforced); the Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team 1/4; and the Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 15.

Read more about their deployment in a Friday news release from the U.S. Third Fleet.

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