FORT DIX, N.J. (NNS) -- As soldiers spin through the mobilization system on their way to fight the global war on terrorism, it's easy for all involved to forget that other services are going through the same momentous task. Inshore Boat Unit (IBU-24), a Navy Reserve unit stationed at Fort Dix, got a reminder this week as they received orders to mobilize.
To deter and destroy such attacks, as the one that killed 17 Sailors and injured 39 others aboard USS Cole (DDG 67), the U.S. Navy deploys inshore boat units that have, among other capabilities, the ability to man small crafts capable of punishing aggressors.
This mobilization marks the third time in two years the local unit has been either mobilized or recalled to duty. But that's okay with Electronics Technician 1st Class Troy Bezak. Bezak says he's been deployed more with IBU-24 than he was during his active-duty days. A policeman in the force at Little Egg Harbor in his civilian guise, Bezak notes that the station there has more than understood in allowing for his duties serving the country. His wife and three children are adjusting well to his deployment, too.
Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Ronald Owen has been with IBU for six years now. While he, "remembers the long days and really hot weather" on different cruises, Owen still considers service with the unit to be an honor.
"This crew is second to none," Owen insists. "Our corps of guys are like brothers - they're unbelievably faithful to the Navy."
Owen's wife and three children are doing well, too, although his 10-year-old has some trouble understanding why Dad's away so much.
But still, members of IBU-24 drive on. They're motivated by patriotism, of course, but also by very strong bonds of camaraderie that only develop among the very best Sailors at sea. Their unit has even walked away with a Golden Anchor award, bestowed only upon outfits ranking top of the line in retention throughout the fleet.
Based on off-the-cuff conversations, morale is sky-high in IBU-24, which consists of 34 enlisted Sailors and two officers, and has to be the most active Naval Reserve unit currently operating out of Fort Dix.
"From March 18 to Nov. 16 last year, we deployed to Puerto Rico and the Middle East (providing harbor protection, specifically, in the Arabian Gulf) doing antiterror and fleet protection missions for ships there," said Lt. Cmdr. David Johnson, Commander, IBU-24.
IBU 24's general mission is to provide a rapidly deployable, armed patrol boat capability, supporting expeditionary warfare security operations wherever U.S. naval forces happen to roam, worldwide. By executing this mission, the unit makes possible safe passage of shipping within critical re-supply ports, inshore anchorages and inshore amphibious objective areas.
IBU-24 has about six combatant craft for use in executing its missions. The boats are 27-foot aluminum hull patrol craft that are powered by twin inboard/outboard diesel engines. They can be armed with .50-caliber machine guns, M-60s, MK-19 grenade launchers and other small arms.
IBU-24 will be deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean working for the 6th Fleet. When not deployed overseas, the unit frequently operates in local waters off New Jersey and along the eastern seaboard.
For related news, visit the Naval Reserve Readiness Command Northeast Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/redcomne.