Meet the overlooked crews who make sure fellow Marines can fight from ship to shore

Marine Corps Bataan amphibious transport dock Landing Craft, Air Cushion LCACUS Marines and sailors with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group watch a Landing Craft, Air Cushion prepare to dock aboard the San Antonio-Class amphibious transport dock ship USS New York during an exercise off the coast of North Carolina, on Aug. 26, 2019.US Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Patricia A. Morris

  • Keeping Marine Expeditionary Units supplied during their wide-ranging operations is a logistical headache.
  • The Marines tasked with that job, Combat cargo Marines, are an overlooked but essential part of the force.
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It is a tough job and not everyone is lining up to work at their pace.

Combat cargo Marines have one of the most demanding jobs aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5). This is especially evident during Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX).

Combat cargo's mission is to support the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit's (MEU) logistical requirements across the three classes of ships featured in MEU operations.

"We are in charge of anything and everything that comes on and off the Bataan," said Lance Cpl. Brandon Novakoski, combat cargoman with the 26th MEU.

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The platoon-sized element is divided into two sections. One controls the flight deck and hangar bay, while the other operates in the well deck of the vessel.

The platoon-sized element is divided into two sections. One controls the flight deck and hangar bay, while the other operates in the well deck of the vessel.

"The well deck Marines handle the landing craft, air cushions (LCAC), landing craft, utilities (LCU) and boat operations," said Gunnery Sgt. Brent Vines, logistics chief with the 26th MEU. "The hangar bay Marines support offloading and onloading of aircraft and personnel via the flight deck."

"The well deck Marines handle the landing craft, air cushions (LCAC), landing craft, utilities (LCU) and boat operations," said Gunnery Sgt. Brent Vines, logistics chief with the 26th MEU. "The hangar bay Marines support offloading and onloading of aircraft and personnel via the flight deck."

Working in combat cargo is not only physically taxing, but it is also mentally exhausting.

Working in combat cargo is not only physically taxing, but it is also mentally exhausting.

"A challenge we face in combat cargo is the unknown," said Vines. "There are many planning factors and moving parts for my crew."

"A challenge we face in combat cargo is the unknown," said Vines. "There are many planning factors and moving parts for my crew."

No matter what the operational tempo throws their way they will be ready.

No matter what the operational tempo throws their way they will be ready.

"We are busy, but safety is still our number one priority during routine operations or any unique task sent our way," said Vines.

"We are busy, but safety is still our number one priority during routine operations or any unique task sent our way," said Vines.

Many Marines and sailors fail to recognize the essential role combat cargo plays in the MEU and Amphibious Ready Group team.

Many Marines and sailors fail to recognize the essential role combat cargo plays in the MEU and Amphibious Ready Group team.

"Combat cargo is a vital part of daily ship life," said Novakoski. "If we didn't have Marines to work the long hours in combat cargo, ship supplies would struggle and missions wouldn't be completed."

"Combat cargo is a vital part of daily ship life," said Novakoski. "If we didn't have Marines to work the long hours in combat cargo, ship supplies would struggle and missions wouldn't be completed."
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