Thursday, June 14, 2007

More on the 13th MEU

As I've mentioned before, two of our Lubbock Marine moms have sons in this unit.

Marines of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit brave sandstorms in the unforgiving desert of Kuwait while preparing for combat operations in Iraq, June 5.

Marines battle harsh environment in Kuwait
June 8, 2007; Submitted on: 06/14/2007 08:21:29 AM ; Story ID#: 200761482129

By Sgt. Andy Hurt, 13th MEU

UDARI RANGE, Kuwait (June 8, 2007) -- While “ship life” has its downsides, it is the unforgiving desert of Kuwait that makes Marines really miss home. Day after day, Marines from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit are subjecting themselves to dust, arid winds and, of course, triple-digit heat.

Training must continue, however, and the “Fighting 13th” is continuously preparing itself for combat operations in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Though the desert provides a brutal environment in which to work, Marines here are proving they are capable of adapting and overcoming natural adversity, and in turn, hardening their bodies and minds.

“Obviously you have the heat, and then fatigue sets in,” said Sgt. Nicholas Person, a native of the comparatively mild Boston, Mass. “Tempers get shorter … by the end of the day everyone is thinking ‘When is this (stuff) gonna end?”

Person, a squad leader from Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, said that his Marines are successfully facing environmental challenges head on, although it takes extra steps to reduce casualty risks among the ranks.

“While we were on a convoy range the other day, one of my guys jumped out of a (vehicle) and immediately his legs started cramping,” said Person. “We reported it to the corpsmen and kept him off that movement, and by the next checkpoint he was good to go … if we hadn’t recognized the potential for a heat casualty, he could have been a lot worse off.”

Heat is not the only danger. Dust storms kicked up across the Middle East find an apex in Kuwait and can seriously limit visibility. Marines here are often unrecognizable by sight alone due to face wraps, goggles, gloves and headgear worn to protect them from the elements. Giving the appearance of ninjas roaming the lands with rifles, it’s full coverage that Person says keeps the danger of exposure at bay.

“It sucks to have to wear a cammie blouse all day, but everyone realizes it’s protecting them from the sun. We have to stay covered at all times,” he said, “and if we’re not moving, we gotta find shade and stay there.”

As Marines will tell you, “We’re not training to kill. We’re training to survive.” The protective measures taken in a training environment, albeit blazing hot, dusty and outright savage, are a facet of force preservation paramount to preparing a fighting force for success.
And yes, it rains here, too.

For more information about the warriors of the Fighting 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, visit the unit’s Web site at

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