LEOGANE, Haiti --
Supplies continued to flow ashore in Haiti as Marines from 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit delivered 1,487 cases of bottled water near Leogane and dozens of five-gallon water cans near Petit Paradies Jan. 20.
Marines from Lima Company, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 22nd MEU, were the first significant Marine presence ashore Jan 19. as they secured a landing zone and began to receive food and water via helicopter. That same day humvees and Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 22 came ashore at the New American Mission in Padou.
The force of CLB Marines, numbering 24 strong with six humvees, provided close to 500 gallons of water to residents at Petit Paradies. The CLB Marines continued inland where they met up with Lima Company and moved dozens of cases of water to a nearby distribution point with their humvees.
"The Marines are very excited to be here, to deploy and do something meaningful," said Lt. Col. Gary Keim, the commanding officer of CLB 22. "They were just glad to make people smile."
The 22nd MEU Commanding Officer also came ashore to meet with U.N. leaders to assess how 22nd MEU assets can best be used to support those in need.
At Leogane, a crowd of onlookers watched as massive CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 (Reinforced) lumbered into a lush pasture that was converted to a landing zone. Six helicopters delivered 22 pallets of bottled water over the course of the day. The water was picked up by U.N. trucks and delivered to distribution points where it was most needed.
The crowd was curious about the Marine's operations, according to Staff Sgt. Clausele Barthold. At one point, a local man opened coconuts for the Marines providing security on the perimeter to help build rapport between the residents and Marines.
"The Haitians think that when the U.S. Marines come ashore, that it means force," said Barthold, a Haitian-American who spent his first 14 years in Haiti. "But after being here two days, and seeing how hard the Marines are working, they are beginning to trust the Marines and become more friendly."
Barthold, a infantryman by trade, volunteered his services after the massive earthquake rocked his native country. He also rallied other Haitian Marines he knew to join the effort. Barthold and 30 others were quickly integrated into a team of interpreters to support the MEU's relief efforts. Barthold spoke with the crowd, gave them directions and even found time to joke around with a group of children who sat in a school circle around him at the edge the landing zone.
"I'm overwhelmed with joy to help, but at the same time it's hurtful to see the human suffering," said Barthold. "But the Marines are here to help, and with time, the suffering will come to an end."
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.