SOUTH CHINA SEA --

Marines and Sailors from the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit participated in three multilateral exercises across the South China Sea to build partnerships and enhance relationships, beginning Oct. 2.

The three exercises will allow the Boxer ARG and embarked 11th MEU to demonstrate the United States’ commitment to ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific by working with allied and partner nations in this important region of the world.

“Throughout our deployment, our Navy and Marines Corps team has trained together in different areas of the world, building partnerships with allies and partners in the Middle East, and now here in the Western Pacific,” said Col. Fridrik Fridriksson, commanding officer, 11th MEU. “Any time we can get an opportunity to work with and learn from another military organization, we know we’re going to come away a better team.”

"The work that this Expeditionary Strike Group team is doing out here has been nothing short of exceptional. They are showcasing the maneuverability and flexibility of our Blue-Green team as they work with our allies and partners to build combat readiness. It is hard to overstate the value of the relationships our Sailors and Marines are forging one person at a time in this important and diverse region." Rear Adm. Fred Kacher, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 7
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --

The words “They came in peace” are etched in the Beirut Memorial stone wall, along with the names of 273 service members that lost their lives in Beirut, Lebanon, on Oct. 23, 1983, including three who died during a rescue mission in Grenada.

On March 24, 1983, members assigned to the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit answered the call for a peacekeeping mission to Beirut. The morning of Oct. 23, 1983, a truck full of compressed gas-enhanced explosives was driven into the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines Headquarters building by a terrorist. Two-hundred and forty-one Marines, Sailors and Soldiers were killed by the impact of the explosion and the building debris.

The bombing in Lebanon was the largest loss of life for Marines in a single action since the Vietnam War and the worst overall since World War II's Iwo Jima battle.

Each year the local community recognizes the importance and sacrifice with a ceremony which is held at the Beirut Memorial Wall in remembrance of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

“Each observance has seen a consistently large audience of widows, sons and daughters, grandchildren, mothers and fathers, friends, civic leaders and serving military personnel who live the motto of the Beirut Veteran’s Association.

“Our First Duty is to Remember.
CAMP FOSTER, Japan --

Marine Corps Community Services, Okinawa, Japan, hosted its ninth annual Comic Con, Oct. 13 at Camp Foster.

The event started in 2011 and caters to comic book fans, movie fans, artists and video gamers, providing opportunities to meet and greet comic book industry professionals and celebrities. The event was open to all department of defense card holders and Japanese citizens.

Convention-goers by the hundreds, were spread-out all-over Camp Foster to include the fieldhouse, Community Center, Gunner’s Fitness Center parking lot, and Ocean Breeze.

“From all branches of media, movies, games, drawing/painting, costumes, basically a safe haven for the creatives to mingle. It’s a beautiful event to experience and be a part of. It’s my very first time, but it was better than what I imagined. I can’t wait to bring my talent to Comic Con every year if possible.” Pfc. Anthony Collazo, a combat engineer with 9th Engineer Support Battalion


The Okinawan humidity couldn’t stop passionate cosplayers from dressing up as their favorite animated popular culture and video game characters. People from all over the island of Okinawa gathered together to meet others that shared similar interests and to have a good time.

Pfc. Anthony Collazo, a combat engineer with 9th Engineer Support Battalion, could be spotted sketching astonishingly fast at a booth setup during the convention.

KATUNGKULAN BEACH, Philippines --

The Armed Forces of the Philippines, Japan Self-Defense Force, and U.S. Armed Forces united to conduct an amphibious landing exercise at Katungkulan Beach, Marine Barracks Gregorio Lim during Exercise KAMANDAG 3 on Oct. 12, 2019.

The ship-to-shore maneuver, which was the culminating event of two weeks of combined training focused on assault amphibious vehicle interoperability, marked the first time the AFP conducted a multilateral amphibious landing with its own AAVs. The drill’s success validated the multinational forces’ ability to conduct complex, synchronized amphibious operations, and it reaffirmed the partnerships between the Philippines, Japan and the United States.

“It’s a major challenge taking three different elements with different backgrounds and bringing them together to execute one goal,” said Philippine Marine Sgt. Roderick Moreno, an assistant team leader with 61st Marine Company, Force Reconnaissance Group. “It was definitely a learning experience, but every year we participate in KAMANDAG, we get more in tune with our allies.”

“Today was about effectively coordinating with our allies from the Philippines and Japan. AAVs representing each country maneuvered simultaneously to conduct a movement up the beach. It’s crucial that we know how to do things side by side, so that in the face of serious military or humanitarian crises, we can work together to overcome the challenges that face us.
NAHA, Japan --

Members of the local and U.S. communities celebrated the 49th annual Naha Great Tug-of-War Festival from Oct. 12 to 14, 2019 at Naha, Okinawa, Japan.

The three-day festival is held on the second weekend in October every year. The largest event features a tug-of-war which uses a 200-meter-long rope made of rice straw and weighs 43 tons, a Guinness World Record.

“We are here building community relations. We have a bunch of Single Marine Program volunteers and service members participating in the event. At the end of the event they give you a piece of the rope, which is a pretty cool souvenir because not many people get to travel the world and experience such a unique event.” U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Trevor Evan, a combat engineer with Marine Corps Installations Pacific


“I have heard about this event ever since I arrived on island, so I had been looking forward to it,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jordan Gorham, a data systems administrator with 7th communications battalion and a native of Virginia Beach, VA. “It was really cool to experience such a rich tradition our host nation puts on for the entire island to come enjoy.”

The first day of the festival is celebrated with folk art performances and a folk traditional arts parade.

From Marines in the South China Sea to those in the desert of California, these are 10 of the most influential photos from around the Marine Corps Oct. 7-11, 2019.

Flight at SeaPhoto by Cpl. Dalton Swanbeck

A CH-53E Super Stallion takes off from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) in the South China Sea Oct. 9.

Guardian AngelsPhoto by Sgt. Conner Robbins

U.S. service members with Task Force San Francisco participate in an urban search and rescue exercise hosted by the San Francisco Fire Department in San Francisco Oct. 8.

The GuardianPhoto by Cpl. Scott Jenkins

A U.S. Marine kneels next to a simulated casualty on Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, Oct. 5.

Prepare for WarPhoto by Cpl. Scott Jenkins

U.S. Marines prepare ammunition before a motorized operations course on Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, Oct. 6.

On the GuardPhoto by Cpl. Scott Jenkins

U.S. Marines provide security from a Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement on Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, Oct.