WHITE BEACH, OKINAWA, Japan -- The Marine Corps’ amphibious landings in the Pacific during WWII will forever mark the organization as a legendary fighting force. With the requirement of getting Marines from ship to shore, the Marine Corps has utilized a variety of vehicles to do just that. During the Battle of Tripoli, that vehicle was a wooden vessel; In WWII, it was the Higgins Boat. Now, it is the AAV-P7/A1 Amphibious Assault Vehicle.
Although the technology may have changed, the importance of the AAV’s mission and the dedication of it crews have not changed since its early days. The Marines of Alpha Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, maintain and operate the legendary AAVs of the Marine Corps’ only continuously forward deployed unit.
“We are one of the most important assets to the MEU because we’re able to carry the infantry in a mechanized armored vehicle from a ship to the shore,” said Cpl. Alex Evers, a native of Cave Creek, Arizona, and a crew chief with Alpha Co., BLT 1/5, 31st MEU. “We drop them off, and then we carry on inland operations with them, providing support in many different ways.”
The AAV platoon has many roles within the 31st MEU, including serving as a liaison for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps and helping with planning operations.
“We serve as the subject matter experts on the BLT staff for amphibious assault vehicle operations,” said 1st Lt. Barrett Moorhouse, a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, and the AAV platoon commander with Alpha Co., BLT 1/5, 31st MEU.
The AAV platoon, based out of Camp Pendleton, California, recently deployed on the USS Ashland (LSD 48) as part of the 31st MEU’s spring deployment.
During these deployments, the 31st MEU engages partner nations in the Asia-Pacific region in order to conduct integrated bilateral training, improve cohesion between partner militaries and sustain regional security.
With most of the world’s major cities reachable by water, the AAVs give the Marines a great advantage when the need to move Marines quickly ashore arises. With the capabilities it provides and the expertise of its crew, it is safe to say the AAV will continue to be a major asset to the Marine Corps.