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SECNAV hits Pendleton with splash

27 Oct 2009 | Lance Cpl. Benjamin Crilly 1st Marine Division

Raymond E. Mabus, Jr., the 75th Secretary of the Navy, got a first-hand look at the capabilities and facilities used by amphibious units here, Oct. 20.

Mabus visited west coast units and instillations for the first time since being sworn into his current office, June 18.

“Because of the critical position (Mabus) is in, it’s important for him to come out and talk to troops,” said Col. Tim W. Fitzgerald, assistant chief of staff of operations at the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. “It’s important for him to see how things are going and get firsthand knowledge of what is happening out here in the fleet.”

Mabus spent the day with Marines and sailors at Camp Pendleton during his visit aboard the base.

“The intent today was his coming out to visit the Marine side of the house,” said Fitzgerald. “We are demonstrating to him our capabilities, and showing him some of the equipment we have and how we employ that equipment.”

Marines from all across Pendleton showed off their skills to the secretary, with rides in the new Bell UH-1Y helicopter, demonstrations of weapons systems used by the troops, the Infantry Immersion Trainer and amphibious operations.

“It’s a great trip. He loves seeing sailors and Marines,” said Capt. Rebecca E. Brenton, the Secretary of the Navy’s public affairs officer. “It’s very important for the Secretary to come out to facilities like those in San Diego and those here at Camp Pendleton, not only to see sailors and Marines, but to see facilities and the weapons systems they train with and fight with.

“It gives him a better understanding of the missions our sailors and Marines do all over the world,” added Brenton.

Assault Craft Unit 5 and  3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion service members conducted amphibious movements during Mabus’ time with them.

“We are trying to show him the blue/green team, because he is the Secretary of the Navy, demonstrating (this relationship) in the Naval service,” said Fitzgerald.

Like the rest of his day, Mabus visited and talked with the men and women that make amphibious operations happen, but he also got a first-hand perspective in the driver seats of the amphibious assault vehicle and air cushioned landing crafts during the exercises.

“It is an honor and a privilege to have (Mabus) in the AAV’s with us today and to show him the capabilities of the Marine Corps,” said Lt. Col. Daryl G. Crane, the commanding officer of 3rd AA Bn.

Mabus concluded his five-day trip to West coast installations, Oct. 22.

“To be out here with the Marines was really important for him,” said Brenton. “It allowed him to experience just a slight bit of what our young Marines are doing for the nation and to gain a better appreciation and understanding as a result of it.”

1st Marine Division