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24th MEU/9th POB Tactical PSYOP Team

By Alan Cave/24MEU

“I was a Psychological Operations Marine from Quantico attached to the 24th MEU that landed the morning of the 15th to a scene that was eerily quiet and settled. Our first contact with civilians was when they breached the civilian terminal that night. What was briefed as 400-500 people quickly turned into thousands. The SPMAGTF and 82nd were still inbound so it was up to about 350-400 MEU Marines to cordon the area and push them back. Over the next 10 hours there was sporadic fire overhead from the other side of the terminal as well as from the fence lines in the area to keep the population scared and on the airfield.

I spent the next several days running equipment at the gates, terminal, and holding areas to relay information in local languages to prepare them for what was going to happen once they came in the airport. During those several days I spent countless hours looking for the family of my coworker in Quantico. Around day 3 or 4 is when I finally managed to find them amongst the see of thousands. That day my request for support landed on the tarmac and out came some of the best and baddest dudes I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. We immediately split into two 3 man teams and resumed operations. When we weren’t at the gates checking identification paperwork and keeping the crowds at bay with 2/1, we were at the holding areas quelling the riots the best we could.

We spent hours tailing the ATFP Officer detaining fence hoppers and squirters. Even with the terrible situation and events unfolding, my teammates were some of the most professional people I had ever met. Up until August 26, we spent the days and nights at the gates with the Marines on post. We witnessed some of the most unspeakable things. TB shooting randoms in the crowd, women and children crushed into the c-wire, children being thrown over the fence but not clearing the c-wire, people dying of heat strokes and suffocation from being crammed worse than sardines.

We would ask the locals “English?” and once we found one that spoke it, we would make a deal that we would assist them and their families into the airport to get their documents checked after they helped us for a little bit. After that it was out of our hands. I’ll never be able to put into words the amount of respect and gratitude I have towards the Marines of 2/1 and 1/8 that we worked hand in hand with at those gates. I always looked forward to getting back out to Abbey Gate to hang with then Capt, now Maj Ball.

I will always be thankful for the time that I did get to spend with Ryan on this deployment. From the first time I met him I got the vibe that he was extremely down to earth, extremely knowledgeable in his craft, and a great dude all around. That man did not disappoint in the slightest. I’ll never forget his upbeat character, jokes, ability to “find stuff” or his Fanny pack Glock. To this day I don’t know if I’ve come to terms with it or if I ever will. I gained a new set of family members on that deployment from the boys at 9th POB.

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