22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit Received Department of Navy Safety Award

29 Jun 2010 | Capt. Binford Strickland

The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit received the Admiral Flatley Memorial Award for outstanding aviation safety. June 29.

"I am extremely honored to receive this prestigious award on behalf of all the Marines and Sailors in the MEU who answered the call to go above and beyond to achieve outstanding operational success and a superb safety record during our last deployment," said Col. Gareth Brandl, commanding officer for the 22nd MEU.

Flatley was an aerial-gunnery expert and World War II squadron and air group commander. He remained in the Navy after the war to become a key figure with Navy's postwar air-training program. Admiral Flatley became deeply involved with assessing Naval Aviation's safety record and ultimately helped develop the Naval Aviation Safety Center, today's Naval Safety Center.

The Admiral Flatley Memorial Award for 2009 recognizes the aircraft carrier and large-deck amphibious ship with embarked carrier wing or Marine Expeditionary Unit, which surpass all competitors in overall contributions to aviation safety. These teams are selected based on operational readiness and excellence, and an exceptional safety program and record.

The 22nd MEU embarked Medium Marine Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced) as the composite aviation combat element of the MEU. This historic deployment, as the first MEU providing forward presence with the MV-22B Osprey, was characterized by innovation and attention to detail. The focus on safety and flight deck procedures supported mission accomplishment and a mishap-free environment.

"The Flatley Award is a fitting recognition of the dedicated efforts and focused team attitude of the MEU, Amphibious Ready Group, and the USS BATAAN as they worked together to incorporate a new type/model/series into daily amphibious operations. It is frankly amazing that the Blue-Green team was able to prevent any mishaps while accomplishing all missions sets through a rigorous pre-deployment training program and subsequent deployment as the CENTCOM theater reserve," said Capt. Joseph McAlarnen, 22nd MEU Assistant Air Officer.

While on their 2009 seven-month deployment, which took them throughout the Mediterranean Sea, Arabian Gulf and Horn of Africa, the 22nd MEU conducted numerous mishap-free flight operations aboard USS Bataan. All aircraft participated in numerous training events from Europe to the Middle East to include Infinite Moonlight, Inspired Nautilus, Echo Mountain and Bright Star.

During the 255 days at sea, the 22nd MEU and USS Bataan accrued more than 4,300 flight hours with more than 5,100 mishap free landings from tiltrotor, fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft.

Medium Marine Tiltrotor Squadron 263 also received the Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety award for 2009. This award symbolizes operational excellence and an exemplary commitment to aviation safety. The squadron's attention to the fulfillment of safety standards and dedication to that standard set the example for all to emulate. Through operational risk management, proactive safety policies, and commitment to improving the aviation safety program, this squadron achieved superior results in the preservation of assets and lives.

The 22nd MEU safety program strives to enhance force preservation to ensure all Marines and Sailors within the MEU are protected to help maintain a force of readiness. The integration of the MEU and assigned amphibious shipping safety programs ensured the total safety of all unit members throughout rigorous training and the at-sea deployment. This all encompassing commitment to safety was a contributing factor to an effective safety program and recognition through the Flatley Award.

Contact the 22nd MEU Public Affairs Office for more information, (910) 546-4421.

22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit