USS IWO JIMA, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7)-based helicopters assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 365 joined in the ongoing departure assistance efforts for American citizens in Lebanon, July 21.
Several CH-53 Sea Stallion and CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters from this multipurpose amphibious assault ship safely transported 300 citizens out of Beirut. Additionally, the helicopters delivered approximately 4,200 pounds of Meals Ready to Eat and 1,200 pounds of water for those citizens waiting to depart the country.
"The Sailors of USS Iwo Jima and the Marines of 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable, (MEU(SOC)) continue to raise the bar with their performance," said Capt. Michael A. Walley, commanding officer of Iwo Jima. "Their continued hard work and dedication will help ensure this mission is a success."
"The [ship's] Air Department performed flawlessly at launching, recovering and refueling these helicopters during today's evolution," remarked Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) (AW) Josh Kramer, Iwo Jima's flight deck leading chief petty officer, a native of Kittanning, Pa. "I couldn't ask for a better team to tackle this evolution."
Under the direction of Commander, Task Force 59, Marine Brig. Gen. Carl Jensen, naval assets are transporting American citizens from Lebanon to Cyprus. CH-53 helicopters from the 24th MEU(SOC) have also been transporting citizens since July 16.
Other ships involved in the evacuation include USS Nashville (LPD 13), USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), USS Barry (DDG 52), USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41), USS Trenton (LPD 14) and USNS Big Horn (T-AO 198). Additionally, embarked aboard Iwo Jima with the 24th MEU(SOC) are U.S. Navy supporting elements from Assault Craft Unit 4, Beachmaster Unit 2 and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 26.
Iwo Jima left its homeport of Norfolk, Va., June 6, and began a regularly scheduled six-month deployment to the U.S. European Command and U.S. Central Command areas of responsibility.
For the latest information on military support to citizens departing Lebanon, visit www.cusnc.navy.mil/articles/2006/lebanon.html
For more news from around the fleet, visit www.navy.mil.