MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Long before the sun crested the horizon over the Atlantic Ocean, Marines from the 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, were plowing through the surf toward waiting amphibious assault ships to join the Marine contingent heading to Haiti, Jan. 16.
The platoon of vehicles crossed Onslow Beach in pairs to embark aboard the USS Gunston Hall, a recent addition to the amphibious ready group carrying the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit to Haiti. In addition to the Gunston Hall, the USS Bataan, Carter Hall and Fort McHenry spent two days embarking the personnel, vehicles and equipment of the 22nd MEU at the port in Morehead City, N.C.
The amphibious assault ships and the embarked MEU were ordered to deploy to Haiti to support ongoing disaster relief and humanitarian assistance efforts in Haiti, which was ravaged by a massive earthquake, Jan. 12. The AAVs give the MEU commander the option of delivering supplies and personnel ashore from offshore shipping, and enhances the unit's ability to provide much-needed humanitarian assistance to the Haitian people.
The 22nd MEU consists of its Command Element; Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; Combat Logistics Battalion 22; and Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 (Reinforced).
The embarkation of the AAVs is among the final steps before the ships and embarked MEU can set sail for Haiti for a humanitarian mission expected to last at least 30 days.