161028-N-TH560-157 OKINAWA, Japan (Oct. 28, 2016) Seaman Isaiah Hunter heaves a mooring line aboard amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) during sea and anchor detail. Bonhomme Richard, flagship of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, is operating in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeanette Mullinax/Released)
Bonhomme Richard arrives in Okinawa disembarks 31st MEU Marines
By Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle Carlstrom

WHITE BEACH, Okinawa – The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) arrived in White Beach, Okinawa to disembark 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) equipment, vehicles and personnel, Oct. 28.

Bonhomme Richard departed Sasebo, Japan, Aug. 6 for a scheduled deployment in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility. While deployed, Sailors and Marines worked side-by-side to enhance partnerships, maintain forward presence and increase Navy-Marine Corps integration for amphibious operations.

“Our blue-green, Navy and Marine Corps team successfully accomplished a wide array of exercises and operations during this deployment and I could not be more proud of this crew,” said Capt. Jeffrey Ward, Bonhomme Richard’s commanding officer.

Key exercises during the deployment were the U.S.-only, unilateral exercise Valiant Shield 2016 (VS16) and the annual, U.S.-Philippine bilateral exercise Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise 33 (PHIBLEX).

“The MEU could not have enjoyed the level of success and accomplishment we had during this deployment without the support of our Navy counterparts,” said Col. Tye Wallace, commanding officer of the 31st MEU. “Anytime our Navy-Marine Corps team works together, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish.”

During the 3-month patrol, Bonhomme Richard Sailors and embarked Marines also made port visits to Hong Kong and Singapore. The crew hosted distinguished visitors with on-board receptions for each visit. Additionally, Sailors and Marines had the opportunity to experience local sites and cultures, enjoy Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR)-organized tours and participated in several community service projects.

“Our Sailors and Marines represented not just their services with honor, but the United States as true ambassadors,” said Ward. “It is an honor to be part of this team.”

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