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Amphibious Raids: 31st MEU Golf Company Provides Lethality from Sea

Amphibious Raids: 31st MEU Golf Company Provides Lethality from Sea

The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit patrols the Indo-Pacific region, ready to respond to any threat with swiftness and lethality. As the only continuously forward deployed MEU, they require units that specialize in self-sufficient and rapid deployment. Golf Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, fills this requirement as the MEU’s amphibious raid company.

Golf Company is comprised of around 150 Marines who deploy from ship to shore in combat rubber raiding craft. Utilizing these CRRCs, the company can rapidly deploy infantry to raid an enemy stronghold. The intention of these raids is to attack an objective, complete the mission and leave before the enemy can react. While other companies may require other units’ helicopter or mechanical assets for transportation, Golf Company can attack from and return to a ship in the CRRCs that they have mastered conducting raids with.

The company spent five months training prior to deployment to become experts in amphibious raids and reconnaissance. With training in Coronado, California, the mechanics, coxswains, combat swimmers, combat assault climbers and raid force Marines of Golf Company underwent specialty schools to become familiar with CRCCs and other technical aspects of amphibious operations. According to Staff Sgt. Anthony N. Stea, the chief coxswain with Golf Company, this training makes the company flexible, efficient and able to execute amphibious raids while deployed with the MEU in the Pacific.

“We don’t need support to get to an objective,” said Stea. “Within our own company, we have the Marines to operate the boats, maintain the boats, provide reconnaissance and execute the raids.”

A coxswain is the Marine in charge of the CRRC. Training for two months, they learn how to navigate the water and control the boat in order to ensure the safety of the Marines in their CRRC.

“Often people tend to think of coxswains as no more than boat drivers, but they are much more than that,” said Stea. “It is understanding how to land and get the raid force on the beach without being detected. It goes into launching off the back of a ship safely and how to recover the CRRCs onto the ship. Every person and piece of equipment in the boat is the responsibility of the coxswain, and it is our job to get them to shore and back to the boat safely.”

Boat mechanics were the first Marines to attend school in Coronado. The course is two and a half months of classroom and practical application training. Before deployment with the MEU, the Marines learn preventative maintenance and engine repair. These mechanics are integral to keeping the company operational, according to Lance Cpl. Jonathan P. Painter, the chief mechanic with Golf Company.

“I am in charge of 12 mechanics, whose job is to perform maintenance on the engines before, during and after raids,” said Painter. “If an engine has issues on the water, we are able to fix it. We use everything at our disposal to make sure the mission gets done.”

Another essential asset to the raids are the assault climbers of Golf Company. Their school, a one and a half month course, makes these Marines experts in traversing cliffs, steep earth and urban climbing obstacles, enabling the company to attack from avenues that the enemy least expects, according to Lance Cpl. Dylan M. Thompson, the chief assault climber with Golf Company.

“Raids are often conducted in areas the enemy doesn’t want to be in,” said Thompson. “Many of the situations we operate in will include cliff faces or similar terrain features, and we provide the ability to navigate over those obstacles and get to the objective.”

While on a raid, the company employs scout swimmers to move ahead of the main force. They participate in three weeks of physically demanding training. Once in the water, they carry minimal equipment in order to move quickly, conduct reconnaissance and mark surf patterns and possible obstacles so the coxswains know where to orient the CRRCs.

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G Willard 0311, 8651/0321, 8511 - April 10, 2020

Still paddled in 1st, 5th, and 2nd Recon in ’60’s, ’70’s (Onslow Beach ring a bell Charles P.? How about “The Swift, The Silent, The Deadly?). When I stand on the beach late at night by myself and listen to the surf rolling in I still remember launching and landing in the dead of night. They couldn’t see us or hear us over the roar of the surf.

Harry - April 10, 2020

Hey Bill 0331, We worked in support of 2/1 “Dodge City” area south of DaNang near Dien-Ban. We had a ferry set up somewhere in the middle “Crapville” got hit almost every night. Had ROK Marines as security. Any of that sound familiar? Harry

Charles Peabody - April 10, 2020

2nd Recon 60-61. I never saw a motor for our rubber boats, but I got in a lot of paddle time. In the “med”, we got pulled close to shore by a mine sweeper and another time by a UDT assault boat.

Bill 0331 - April 10, 2020

Happy to see that the 2/1 “The Professionals ” are still riding on. Bill 0331 E-2/1 68-69

MSgt Edd Prothro, USMC Ret. 1964-1984 - April 10, 2020

I guess these are the same “rubber duckies” which we used back in the 1960’s. I don’t remember having a trained coxswains or motors though. Everyone had to paddle. Semper Fi!!

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