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U.S. Marines with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16 from Miramar, Calif., move a tree blocking the road on Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz, Guam, June 2, 2023.

Photo by LCpl. Garrett Gillespie

Came to Train, Stayed to Help: 3rd MAW Marines Assist in Typhoon Recovery Efforts

8 Jun 2023 | 2ndLt Madison Walls 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Marines and Sailors of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron (MALS) 16 embarked aboard Wright-class Aviation Logistics Support Ship, SS Curtiss (T-AVB 4) partnered with the U.S. Coast Guard and 30th Naval Construction Regiment to support recovery efforts in the wake of Typhoon Mawar beginning May 25, 2023, while pier side at X-Ray Wharf, Guam.

Marines and Sailors aboard SS Curtiss deployed to the Philippines in mid-March as key participants in Immortal Warrior 2023. This was the first iteration of Immortal Warrior, which activated, exercised, and safely deployed the Military Sealift Command ship to plan and execute expeditionary intermediate-level aviation logistics, maintenance and supply for U.S., Ally and partner forces.

Immortal Warrior enhances Marine Corps capabilities as part of the Naval Expeditionary Force. It provides mobile afloat intermediate-level maintenance activity in support of aviation operations.  This training opportunity was enhanced by compositing depot-level artisans aboard SS Curtiss to integrate skills for simulated aircraft battle damage repair from the forward deployed combat repair team. The teams experimented in F-35, H-1, F/A-18, and intermediate-level component repairs to experiment with salvage operations and expeditious repairs that would normally involve reach-back engineer support and approval. These skills enable the Marine Corps to support regional relationships by providing security, flexibility and humanitarian aid at a moment's notice.

The Marines also coordinated and participated in community relations events with the Palauan public throughout their time in the region to enhance relationships with strategic partners. The events included a clean-up effort at Meyuns Elementary School, playing a soccer game with the local students, and providing labor to support improvements to local tourist attractions.  

“The Immortal Warrior team worked hard during the community relations event in Palau,” said Maj. William Dunst, Officer in Charge, MALS 16 (Forward). “This fantastic opportunity enabled aviation logistics Marines to engage with the local populace, donate equipment, improve elementary school grounds, and refurbish a popular hiking trail positively influencing strategic partnerships in the Pacific.”

Typhoon Mawar first made landfall the night of May 24, 2023 and has since become the most powerful storm worldwide in the past two years. Immediately upon being directed to assist, MALS-16 Marines and Sailors focused their efforts on route clearance using medium and heavy equipment for debris removal along the Nimitz Hill Reservoir.

They then transitioned to conduct restoration of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam compound, Naval Hospital, Naval Base Guam chapel, Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz, Anderson Air Force Base Chapel, and base housing. The team cleared roadways for emergency vehicles at Mangilao Solar Farm, and repaired more than 12 generators, restoring power to facilities across Naval Base Guam.

“I’m incredibly impressed by and proud of the hard work completed by the Immortal Warrior Marines and Sailors in support of typhoon recovery efforts in Guam,” said Lt. Col. Jason “Knuckles” Fiduccia, Commanding Officer of MALS-16. “Every Marine joins because they want to be part of America’s 911 force, and that’s exactly what our team has had the privilege to accomplish here. This is also a great real-world demonstration of the agile response options that are offered by the T-AVB in addition to its primary aviation logistics mission.”

Providing more than 2000 manpower hours, Marines and Sailors conducted and supported the restoration of Naval Base Guam and the surrounding area. Marines, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen continue their restoration efforts through rebuilding fences, security structures and conducting reconnaissance for future efforts.

“The Immortal Warrior team seized the initiative, adapted to the environment, and positively contributed to restoration operations across the island,” Dunst said.

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