MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. – --
Marines were welcomed back from a six month-long deployment by anxious family members and loved ones at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina.
A detachment of Marines from Marine Attack Squadron 542, Marine Aircraft Group 14, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, were attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264 (Reinforced), Marine Aircraft Group 26, 2nd MAW, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. The 22nd MEU, deployed with the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, conducted naval operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.
“The Marines kept putting forth 100% effort against tough situations,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Beals, the executive officer of VMA-542. “Operational tempo was high so the limited time they had to work on the planes they did it correctly and enabled us to support the ground force commander.”
The AV-8B Harrier II squadron’s primary mission is to provide offensive air support, armed reconnaissance, and air-defense for expeditionary Marine forces.
“The training we receive back in the rear helps a lot when we go out there because the maintenance is the same, there are just more missions,” explained Cpl. Bradley Bennett, an aircraft ordnance technician assigned to VMA-542. “That time spent working on the engines during training [operations] and Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course prepares us with fast pace drills and proficiency.”
According to Bennett, the deployment also gave him perspective on how operations aboard a ship differ from those on land. Factors like the ships rocking affect the environment the Marines work on and add variables to take in consideration while operating.
“These accomplishments wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and dedication of all the Marines of VMM-264 (Reinforced),” said Beals.