Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway speaks with Marines and Sailors from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) aboard the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5). Bataan left her homeport of Norfolk, Va., Jan. 4 on a regularly scheduled deployment as the flagship for the Bataan Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG). Bataan ESG is conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO) which help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Stephen Oleksiak
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Joanne De Vera, USS Bataan Public
The Commandant of the Marine Corps visited the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) while underway in the Persian Gulf on April 4.
Gen. James Conway arrived with Lt. Gen. Keith Stadler, Commanding General of II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF); Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps John Estrada and Rear Adm. Richard Jeffries, Medical Officer of the Marine Corps.
The visit began with a quick meeting with Col. Gregg Sturdevant, the 26th MEU commanding officer, while 26th MEU Marines and Sailors gathered on the ship’s flight deck for a promotion ceremony with the general. Conway also met his goal for coming to Bataan - to speak with his troops.
“It’s great to be able to meet with the Marines and Sailors of the MEU,” said Conway. “Bataan is a great ship of the line and the salty sea air smells really good out here.”
“This Navy/Marine Corps team is what keeps this country going,” Conway went on to say. “There is no better patriot than [each of] you out here today. No matter where your future takes you, you can be proud because you served during a difficult time in history and you made a difference.”
Estrada, referring to his upcoming retirement, echoed the commandant's sentiments.
“During my last visit to this area of the world, I’m excited to see the world’s finest warriors out at sea,” Estrada said.
Conway and Estrada then answered questions about policies, equipment and what lies ahead. Though they mainly spoke to the MEU, their words benefited Bataan Sailors as well.
“The visit was both an honor and an opportunity to showcase the Bataan Navy/Marine Corps team at sea and in action,” said Capt. Rick Snyder, Bataan’s commanding officer. “Since we are a team, their successes and challenges are our successes and challenges.”
Gen. Conway and his staff also visited USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) and USS Shreveport (LPD 12), both part of the Bataan Strike Group, earlier that day.
Bataan left her homeport of Norfolk on Jan. 4 for a regularly scheduled deployment as the flagship of the Bataan Expeditionary Strike Group, which is comprised of the Bataan Strike Group, commanded by Capt. Donna Looney, commander, Bataan Strike Group/Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 2, and the 26th MEU, based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., commanded by Col. Gregg Sturdevant. Bataan Strike Group includes
PHIBRON 2, Bataan, USS Shreveport (LPD 12), USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), USS Nitze (DDG 94), USS Underwood (FFG 36), and USS Scranton (SSN 756).