22nd MEU Deploys Thursday

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) -- A Marine Corps unit is leaving for seven months in the Mediterranean and the Middle East with its first MV-22B Osprey aircraft.

The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit's 2,200 Marines and sailors will deploy Thursday on ships of the Navy's Bataan Amphibious Ready Group.

The unit is a floating base that can respond quickly to crises. MEUs have rescued downed pilots, civilians and engaged in combat.

Ten Ospreys will deploy along with four heavy lift helicopters, four attack helicopters, two utility helicopters and six AV-8B Harrier jet fighters.

The Marines activated its first Osprey squadron a year ago and the aircraft that flies like a plane and takes off and lands like a helicopter has been used in Iraq.

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