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U.S. Marines assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 163 return to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., after their deployment with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit Thursday, May 12, 2017. The 11th MEU embarked mid-October 2016 aboard the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, trained alongside armed forces from foreign nations, and supported operations throughout the Western Pacific, Middle East and Horn of Africa.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jake McClung

Welcome home: 11th MEU returns after seven months

16 May 2017 | Cpl. Harley Robinson 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 163 (Reinforced) returned from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, May 12.

Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 311 returned to MCAS Yuma, May 11, and with VMM-163 served as the 11th MEUs air combat element.

The 11th MEU served seven months forward deployed in the Western Pacific, Middle East, and the Horn of Africa and supported Operations Inherent Resolve in Syria and Operation Oaken Steel from Djibouti.

The 11th MEU operated from the three U.S. warships, composing the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, demonstrating the versatility of a sea-based Marine Air-Ground Task Force and the benefits of a self-sustaining Navy-Marine Corps Team patrolling key regions of the world. The MEU participated in six military-to-military engagements with partner nations in both the U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Central Command.

This Deployment gave the Marines and Sailors the opportunity to demonstrate the versatility of a sea-based Marine Air-Ground Task Force and the benefits of a self-sustaining Navy-Marine Corps Team patrolling key regions of the world. It gave the troops the capability to work alongside armed forces from foreign nations to create stronger international ties.

“Just as Marines have historically been the ‘first to fight,’ the MEU carries on this tradition as the nation's premier rapid-response forces,” said Col. Clay C. Tipton, commanding officer, 11th MEU. “The American people would be proud of how their Marines represented our great nation while operating in more than 24 countries.”

The USS Somerset (LPD 25), part of the air combat element, retuned to MCAS Camp Pendleton, May 11. The ground combat element of the MEU was the Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1st Bn., 4th Marines and the combat logistics element was the Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 11.

After seven long months, Marines and Sailors are thrilled to be reunited with their friends and family.

"We got to train with other squadrons as well as other countries," said Cpl. Matthew Lindell, MV-22B Osprey crew chief. "It's an unexplainable feeling living on a ship for seven months. It's nice to be back and surrounded by the people I love."


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