Sunday, January 11, 2009

Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group Departs San Diego on Western Pacific Deployment

Official U.S. Navy file photo of Sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) conduct a foreign object damage walk-down before flight operations.

Focus on Defense:

USS BOXER, At Sea, Jan. 11, 2009 -- Amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and the six other ships of the Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group (BOXESG) departed San Diego Jan. 9 for a regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment.

The deployment marks the end of a four-month long workup cycle that provided Boxer's crew an opportunity to conduct training operations and exercises.

"During our workups Boxer conducted a lot of unit level training," said Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Ray Burrhus. "During deployment I'm looking forward to seeing continued personal and professional growth."

"Our Sailors and Marines have fostered an excellent level of teamwork that will continue to grow," Burrhus added.

Sailors and Marines of all levels will have a chance to hone skills, obtain qualifications and visit other countries.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the world and visiting new ports," said Yeoman 3rd Class (SW) Jesse McCollough. "I'm going to earn my second warfare pin, and, hopefully, make second class petty officer before we return."

Deployments can be challenging due to separation from family and friends, but Sailors and Marines soon learn how to stay positive and keep in touch with loved ones.

"I have pictures of family and access to email to keep in touch," said Navy Career Counselor 1st Class (SW) Luz Bautistamancilla. "The hardest part of deployments for me is leaving my 3-year old daughter and missing her daily growth, but I really enjoy my job, which keeps me positive."

"This deployment gives Sailors a great sense of pride in answering national tasking," concluded Burrhus.

BOXESG is comprised of Amphibious Squadron 5, the 13th MEU, USS New Orleans (LPD 18), USS Comstock (LSD 45), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), USCGC Boutwell (WHEC 719), USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), Boxer Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21, Naval Beach Group 1, Assault Craft Unit 5, Assault Craft Unit 1, Beach Master Unit 1 and Fleet Surgical Team 5.

The 13th MEU is comprised of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 (Reinforced), Combat Logistics Battalion 13 and Battalion Landing Team 1/1.

(Report by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Jackson, USS Boxer Public Affairs.)

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