HADITHA DAM, Iraq --
Sailors from Little Creek, Va.-based, Riverine Squadron 2, assumed the responsibilities of patrolling the Euphrates River from Riverine Squadron 1 on a day that held special meaning, the Navy’s 232nd birthday, Oct. 13.
The unit, which is the second Navy Riverine unit to perform this mission since Viet Nam, is different from their predecessors because they are all volunteers. The sailors come from specialties ranging from administration to gunners mates with a variety of experience.
“Being part of the Rivron squadron is historical,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Carlos Rivas, personnel specialist, Rivron-2. “It hasn’t been around since back in the day, during the Viet Nam era. I actually accepted back-to-back sea duties to become part of this squadron.”
The landlocked sailors find it a surprise to be serving in Iraq, but are excited at the opportunity to work in a joint environment.
“I wanted to be more involved with joint operations, working with the Marines and the Army, help them out with their mission, while we meet our minimum guidelines and then improve on them,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class James Thompson, an electrician’s mate serving as a boat gunner with Rivron-2. “This is an awesome command. The more we get involved, the more we operate jointly, it is wonderful. If we keep involved, when Marine ground forces are in danger and contact us, we can be there to the riverbanks and get them out of there and that is the best thing.”
Training for their new mission was provided at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and civilian facilities in North Carolina. The training included crew served weapons, land navigation, combat lifesaving and survival Arabic amongst others.
“The training was awesome and different,” said Thompson. “Some of medical training, like the combat lifesavers course, I would never thought in my life I would be going through. The training we got in Camp Lejeune with the Marines, I never knew I would be hands on and I was amazed at how much fun it was. The Marines made it so much fun and taught it so well.”
The mission for the sailors is clear: secure the waterways, make sure the dam continues operations and help train the Iraqis to keep it safe, said Master Chief Petty Officer Daniel Adley, command master chief of the squadron.
“These sailors are well-trained, prepared and received a seamless turnover,” said Adley. “What the volunteer force brought us was unlimited ability, unlimited desire, unlimited talent, unlimited mission, the possibilities are limitless. These guys are prepared, willing and able to accomplish great things.”
The sailors, excited about their seven-month deployment, credit Rivron-1 with setting them up for success. Because the unit has just been revived, Rivas said they could not have done it without the turnover.
“Rivron-1 set us up for success with a great turnover. They gave us everything we need to carry on and improve,” he said. “They were the first ones over here. They did a great job and did what they set out to do.”