LEOGANE, Haiti --
Approximately 125 Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit came ashore near Leogane, Haiti Jan. 19 beginning relief operations in a pasture that is now being used as a landing zone for helicopters loaded with supplies.
The Marines launched from the USS Bataan aboard CH-53E Super Stallion Helicopters and UH-1N Hueys, aircraft that are part of the MEU's Aviation Combat Element, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 (Reinforced).
The Marines quickly established security in the landing zone which was the home to a handful of emaciated horses, who seemed unaware of the devastation that had occurred only one week before. The first helicopter touched down just before noon and shortly after, relief supplies began flowing. Collapsible water containers and bottled water were the first supplies delivered by the MEU.
"Our efforts have been going very well," said Capt. James Birchfield, company commander of Lima Company, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. "It's hard work, but the Marines are working quickly to get the supplies to those who need them."
Over the course of the afternoon, six helicopters delivered pallets of water and food. U.N. Forces picked the supplies up in trucks and distributed them to areas that have had little relief since the quake rocked the country one week ago.
For one Marine, the efforts of the Marines were close to home. Cpl. Clifford Sajous is a native of Haiti and has had not had any contact with several of his family members since the earthquake. Despite of this, Sajous focuses on the mission and knows the Marines efforts are well received.
"They're excited we are here and happy they are going to get some help," said Sajous. "We're here, helping people right now and that is something to be proud of."
The ships of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and embarked elements of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived off the coast of Haiti Monday to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief for earthquake survivors and bolster relief operations already underway in support of Operation Unified Response.
This sea-based force will bring added capabilities to aid the relief efforts without taxing the already strained infrastructure ashore. Comprised of heavy-lift and utility helicopters, trucks and humvees, assault amphibian vehicles, and logistics capabilities to include water purification and limited medical support, the 22nd MEU will further enhance the humanitarian relief efforts ashore.
The 22nd MEU is a multi-mission capable force comprised of Aviation Combat Element, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; and its command element.
In addition to Bataan, the Amphibious Relief Mission also includes USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) and detachments from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, Helicopter Mine Countermeasure Squadron (HM) 15, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 21, Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 8, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 4 and Beachmaster Unit (BMU) 2.