ANCON, Peru -- Standing in formation on a parade deck, Marines of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force 24 received a warm welcome from their hosts in Peru’s Infanteria de Marina, or Marine Corps, as they began training here this week.
A large formation of troops, vehicles and weapons across from the Comandancia, or Headquarters, marked the official start of training in Peru. Words of welcome were given by Rear Adm. Oscar Anderson, Contralmirante (Commandant) of the Infanteria de Marina, and Capitan de Navio (Col.) Carlos Tallo, Chief of Staff. Both Anderson and Tallo spoke to the Marines after the ceremonial formation as well, personally thanking them for making the trip to Peru to train with their Marines.
“I was very impressed,” said Lt. Col. Michael D. Schmidt of Des Moines, Iowa, Adjutant of 24th Marine Regiment, of the reception given the Marines. “It was very formal, yet cordial. They really rolled out the welcome mat.”
Following the formation, Marines were treated to an extensive drill routine performed by La Historica Compania Juan Fanning, the ceremonial silent drill unit of the Peruvian Marines. Marines of both nations were invited onto the rooftop of a building adjoining the parade deck in order to gain a bird’s eye view of the routine.
“I was especially impressed with the drill,” said Lance Cpl. Chris Buckles Haley of communications platoon, Headquarters Company, 24th Marine Regiment. “It’s interesting to see how something as universal as drill can be so artistic. They turned sharp military movements into a dance while maintaining unit discipline and cohesiveness as one body.”
Arriving by amphibious offload from the USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), the Marines and sailors of SPMAGTF 24 are conducting training in and around the Peruvian Marines’ primary base in Ancon, with additional field operations taking place further up the coast. Comprised of elements of 24th Marine Regiment and attachments from Marine Forces Reserve and other units, the task force is deployed in support of Partnership of the Americas 2007, an annual exercise conducted to increase regional security and cooperation among nations of the Western Hemisphere.
“The hospitality they’ve given us has been great,” said Staff Sgt. Everett L. Samuels of Kansas City, Mo., food service chief for SPMAGTF 24. “We’re all looking forward now to seeing the sights and the culture. Nothing beats just meeting and greeting people, and learning to appreciate their backgrounds as they appreciate ours.”
After some planning meetings, Marines of both nations began field training on ranges in Ancon with rifles and mortars, getting in necessary target practice for further exercises and furthering the familiarization process for what has already begun as a mutually beneficial partnership.