USS PELELIU, At Sea (NNS) -- The Marines of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) have worked hard the past several weeks, refining their hand-to-hand combat skills and solidifying combat readiness in the hangar bay aboard USS Peleliu (LHA 5).
Sgt. Nicolas A. Magallanes, an instructor for the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP), explained
the program is unique to the Marine Corps. It combines tactics from several fighting styles and is grounded in the ethos of honor, courage and commitment.
"All Marines have honor, courage and commitment. The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program has core values of its own, which is the synergy. [MCMAP teaches] the character discipline, the physical discipline and the mental discipline."
Along with the basic skills and techniques learned in MCMAP, Marines learn the value of teamwork.
"Our whole intent is to develop the small team unity, the small unit leadership, where you put a [junior Marine] in charge of a whole squad," said Magallanes, a native of Lubbock, Texas.
"Sometimes, those junior Marines are in charge of captains, majors, gunnery sergeants, master sergeants, first sergeants, [because] they're the class leaders and squad leaders. We develop the small unit leadership."
Marine Corps martial arts is a physically strenuous and tactically demanding skill which builds Marines into efficient fighters. For Marines training in MCMAP classes, the aches and pains of training is worth the reward of professional development, according to Staff Sgt. Richard M. Verduzco, training chief with the command element.
"It's all for personal benefit and personal gain as a Marine and as a unit overall. It looks better over all on paper and in black and white when you're competing for promotion, and it gives you a little bit of an edge," said Verduzco. "When we get back [after deployment], it's business as usual, so if you get a chance to advance yourself, take advantage of it."
Aside from career advancement and ability to overcome day-to-day challenges, the real value of MCMAP is the moral fiber built during training.
"Yes, you have to be physically strong and fit. But as Marines, if you don't have the courage and fortitude to follow through with something, it's like having a loaded gun that you can't shoot," said Verduzco.
Also, with time on the ship between ports, MCMAP training builds on the operational capabilities of the Marines aboard Peleliu.
"You aren't always going to have an M-16 with you. If your M-16 malfunctions or you're out of ammo and there are tons of enemy around, you have to be ready to take them down any way you can, and MCMAP shows you how to do that," said Lance Cpl Richard J. Pratt, an assaultman with Weapons Platoon, Golf Company, Battalion Landing Team 2/5 and a native of Atkinson, Ill.
The Camp Pendleton, Calif., based 15th MEU is comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines and Sailors and is a forward deployed force in readiness capable of conducting numerous operations, such as non-combatant evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance operations and a wide range of amphibious missions.
The 15th MEU is deployed aboard USS Peleliu (LHA 5), USS Dubuque (LPD 8) and USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52).
For more news from USS Peleliu - Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group, visit www.navy.mil/local/lha5/.