USS MESA VERDE --
Though Marines may refer to their deployment on ship as a “cruise,” it is nothing like the posh life experienced while on an actual cruise ship. Cramped quarters, long lines and periods of boredom dominate everyday life on ship and can lead to “cabin fever.”
True to the adaptive nature of the Marine Corps, Marines have found a way to battle “cabin fever” through intense combat training.
Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 22, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted Marine Corps martial arts program training aboard USS Mesa Verde, April 16, 2011.
The training offers the Marines a chance to enhance their hand-to-hand combat skills and gives them a break from periods of stressful and monotonous ship life.
“For starters, the course helps pass time,” said Cpl. Craig F. Turner, a motor transport operator and Detroit native, with CLB 22. “But also, as motor transport Marines, it’s good for us to have combat skills.”
MCMAP has five belts, tan, gray, green, brown and black. Most of the students have earned their gray belts and will train for months to earn their black belt.
“This training is important because it advances the Marines’ careers,” said Sgt. Tim D. Dankemyer, the motor transport chief and a second-degree black belt instructor with CLB 22. “It’s also important because MCMAP is not just something you have to use in the Marine Corps. These are skills with a wide range of options.”
In the upper vehicle storage, on two black mats, Marines started their four-hour class with physical training. Then, it was time to put their knowledge of techniques, taught in previous classes, to the test, by sparring with each other using batons and grappling.
“The course keeps you motivated,” said Turner. “Marines always want to learn combative skills and Marines always want to teach it. We’re naturally aggressive.”
The vehicle storage offers the Marines a chance to get out of the cramped hallways and berthing areas while the four-hours of constant movement keeps their minds focused on training.
“It’s a big stress relief to come out here and get the blood flowing,” said Turner. “You’re not thinking about anything else except MCMAP. You’re just focused on getting the training you need.”
The ship’s limited space can be a challenge for the instructors when it comes to planning out the course.
“The hardest part is planning the curriculum,” said Dankemyer, a Marshville, Wis., native. “Being on deployment, safety is paramount. As long as you have an instructor that’s knowledgeable, they can still make the course challenging.”
The Marines and sailors of the 22nd MEU are currently deployed with Amphibious Squadron 6 aboard the USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and will continue to train and improve the MEU’s ability to operate as a cohesive and effective Marine Air Ground Task Force.
The 22nd MEU is a multi-mission, capable force, commanded by Col. Eric J. Steidl and comprised of Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; and its Command Element.
Marine Expeditionary Units are the Marine Corps' smallest permanent Marine Air-Ground Task Force, and comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines and sailors ready to provide immediate response to a hostile environment or crisis.