CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Deploy the Marine Expeditionary Force is not just a saying for the Marines of Combat Logistics Company 21, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, it’s a way of life. The Marines from CLC-21 work tirelessly seven days a week to ensure Marines and gear from II MEF and the other units in the Marine Corps get where they need to go.
“Anything that travels anywhere on the east coast—Marine Corps related—goes through us,” said Sgt. Joseph D. Baehman, the operations chief for the Aeriel Port Of Embarking/Debarking Platoon, CLC-21. “We’re the main hub for the east coast.”
In fiscal year 2009, 94,667 service members and 22,638 tons of gear went through Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point on a total of 634 flights.
“We’re the largest aerial port in the Marine Corps,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher M. Brooks, the port chief for APOE/D Platoon.
During the busy season it’s not unusual to see 30 flights in a week said Brooks.
Two 11-man teams work 12-hour shifts everyday, to ensure units properly track Marines and gear en route to a deployment and to ensure all gear is stored and loaded properly according to Department of Defense and civilian guidelines.
“The war and flights don’t stop on the weekends,” said Gunnery Sgt. Mark D. McLaughlin, the platoon commander of APOE/D platoon. “We work when everyone else is off. During weekends or [96 hours off,] these Marines bust their tail because if we fail, it’s felt throughout the Marine Corps.”
Working a schedule like they do, the Marines of APOE/D platoon, develop a combat mindset.
“We have such a high work tempo that we develop a deployment mentality and leadership style,” said Brooks, who’s deployed three times to Iraq. “This becomes a second home to us, and we become a big family.”
Different stressors affect the Marines’ families similarly to spouses with deployed warfighters.
“If it weren’t for understanding spouses, this job would be 10-times more difficult,” Brooks said.
“We try to ensure that Marines get ample rest and time off to increase morale and mission accomplishment,” said McLaughlin, who’s deployed several times to Iraq and once to Afghanistan.
Mission accomplishment for CLC-21 means that everyone works together from the engineers who fix broken equipment, to supply Marines who make sure the warfighers have the equipment they need. Every job is integral to deploying II MEF.
“Team work drives the mission forward,” said Lance Cpl. Wesley D. Swindle, a team member with Team One, APOE/D Platoon. “It’s not just me doing something; it’s everyone working together.”