MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
More than 70 Marines and sailors from
Marine Corps Air Station New River set off to join the Navy’s newest ship for
its maiden voyage throughout South America, July 9.
Service members from Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 22,
deployed for the first time in support of Special Marine Air-Ground Task
Force-South aboard the USS America, the first amphibious assault ship of its
The USS America is scheduled to visit Colombia, Brazil, Chile and other
countries in the region as it makes its way to San Diego, its home port. It is
a routine transit where the Special MAGTF-South will be able to engage partner
nations. Exchange events with partner nations’ personnel are planned in
activities such as Marine Corps Martial Arts, combat lifesaver and combat
Marines and sailors will be able explore some of the countries during port
calls and have opportunities to volunteer at local schools, orphanages and
It is a chance for service members with VMX-22 to
interact with different cultures and see new places, said Lance Cpl. Felicia
Cunningham, an avionics technician with VMX-22.
"I’m excited," said Cunningham. "I think it will be a lot of
Cunningham looks forward to not only gaining new cultural experiences, but
gaining new experiences professionally. She expects performing her job aboard
the ship will be very different than on the air station. She believes the
variation in environment will provide challenges and opportunities to increase
It will be some of the Marines’ first time deploying with the Navy, said Staff
Sgt. Michael Perrault, an aviation supply specialist with VMX-22.
"(Marines are) used to deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan," said
Perrault. "For most of us, this is our first taste of a true Marine Corps
deployment. We are going back to our amphibious roots."
Perrault looks forward to interacting with the sailors of the USS America, as
well as people from the countries they will visit.
"It really brings together the bilateral relationships that we as the
armed forces have with other countries," said Perrault. "It’s one of
the good things the Marine Corps can do for you. You can work with different
people and gain new experiences."
VMX-22 is scheduled to return in two months.