GULF OF ADEN (NNS) -- In 2017, two high school grads decided to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) to serve their country, travel the world, and within the twinkle of an eye, they were living their dreams, sailing across the equator aboard the dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49).
Cpl. Rachel Meskimen from Sacramento and Cpl. Coleman Adams from Montgomery, Alabama both enlisted in the USMC as Landing Support Specialists. Upon graduation from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina, they were assigned to the Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 11, part of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
When they learned in early January of their unit deploying with the USS Harpers Ferry on a regularly-scheduled deployment, emotions quickly ran high. “I was so excited of the news. It was my opportunity to see the world while serving my country at the same time,” said Meskimen.
Adams on the other hand has heard several deployment stories from his friends who have deployed before. “I have never experienced it [deployment] and this was that opportunity. I have always wanted to deploy and it was exciting news.”
Meskimen has never travelled outside of the United States. “It was my first time to those places and I cannot believe I am actually living my dream,” she said, referring to the Island of Guam and Hawaii, the two ports visited by Harpers Ferry in the early stages of deployment.
“I have been to a few places outside of the States but it was my first time in Guam. I got to meet and spend time with a couple of friends stationed here,” said Adams.
While aboard the Harpers Ferry, Meskimen works at the armory while Adams occasionally assists with flight deck operations.
“One thing I have learned so far is interacting with different people and learning from their diverse cultures. It’s actually an enriching experience,” said Meskimen, referring to the Marine and Navy team integration on Harpers Ferry. “It’s a mix between Marines and Sailors from different states and countries. You’ve got to learn how to interact with everyone because you live and work with them every day,” Adams concurred.
For some Sailors and Marines, deployment is not considered a success if some goals aren’t met. It could be financial, educational, health and fitness, professional, or personal. For Meskimen and Adams, they want to be Black Belt holders.
The Black Belt is the highest belt color in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and signifies knowledge of the advanced fundamentals of the different disciplines. “I am currently a Green Belt ,and I am not completing this deployment without a Black Belt,” Adams affirmed.
As the duo continue their first deployment experience with the possibility of visiting more foreign ports, they had a message for prospective Marines. “If you ever decide to join the USMC, don’t take anything you are told to do at basic training personally or for granted,” echoed Meskimen. “You may not make sense of some of the tasks you are assigned but once you get to your first unit, everything becomes crystal clear,” Adams bolstered.
Sailors and Marines of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are embarked on USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-49) on a regularly-scheduled deployment.
For more news from USS Boxer (LHD 4), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd4/.