Amtraks move from ship to shore

15 Sep 2000 | Cpl. Brandon L. Rizzo

Marines from Alpha Company, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion "got their feet wet" during two days of ship-to-shore operations at Onslow Beach here recently.

The training, which helped less-experienced Marines gain familiarity with shipboard operations, served as a preparation for the upcoming Type Commander's Amphibious Training.

"This is a good opportunity for our Navy/Marine Corps team to work together and uphold our amphibious doctrine," said Master Sgt. Paul E. Hancock of Lake Placid, Fla. "This is the first time for many new Marines to experience what it's like to be an amtracker."

More than a dozen amphibious assault vehicles moved from the sandy beach here into the Atlantic waters to board the USS Gunston Hall offshore.

Moving in two "waves," (rows of vehicles parallel to the shoreline) this was the first of many "splashes" the company completed during the exercise.

"This is great training," said Lance Cpl. Stephen D. Clark, an amtrack crew chief from Mullins, S.C.  "This is what makes the Marine Corps.  Without amphibious assaults, we would be just like the Army."

Alpha Company completed three types of 'splashes' during the training.

After moving from the beach and loading onto the ship, the AAVs practiced "ready circles."  This is when they 'splash' from the ship and circle in the water until given the word to load back on.

Next, the company completed day and night beach assaults.  Following these operations, the company offloaded from ship, and navigated the New River to return to their port of call - Courthouse Bay.

The training was a success, according to Gunnery Sgt. David H. Ham, an amtrak platoon sergeant.

"Lots of our new Marines need practice in the water," Ham said.  "It's important that they get this experience.  After all, this is our (Marine Corps) bread and butter - 'ship to shore and beyond.'"