Face of Defense: From Small Boats to an Amphibious Assault Ship


Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Cunningham recalls that as he was growing up he would cruise the Delaware River with friends on a small, 25-foot fishing boat that carried no more than 10 people.

A Marine sits in his berth aboard an amphibious assault ship.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Cunningham sits in front of his berth aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, underway to Thailand to participate in Exercise Cobra Gold 18, Feb. 6, 2018. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ricky Gomez
A Marine sits in his berth aboard an amphibious assault ship. Small Boat, Big Ship
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Cunningham sits in front of his berth aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, underway to Thailand to participate in Exercise Cobra Gold 18, Feb. 6, 2018. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ricky Gomez

Today, Cunningham finds himself aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard, an 844-foot amphibious assault ship which holds thousands of Marines and sailors.

“Being on a fishing boat with my friends is great, but I feel like there is a sense of purpose being aboard a naval vessel,” he said. “I am excited to be on an amphibious assault ship and do what Marines do.”

Cunningham, 20, hails from Parkersburg, West Virginia. He enlisted on June 13, 2016.

Serving in the Marine Corps

“I [joined] the Marine Corps because I felt like it was my civic duty,” he said.

Cunningham serves as an infantry fire team leader assigned to Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division. His Hawaii-based unit is underway aboard the Bonhomme Richard, heading to Thailand to participate in the Cobra Gold 2018 multinational training exercise.

Cobra Gold 2018, held Feb. 13-23, is an annual exercise conducted in Thailand with seven fully participating nations. It is the largest exercise in the Indo-Pacific region.

“I am excited to show other militaries things that I have learned and [to make] a stronger connection with the U.S. and our allies,” Cunningham said.