AL ASAD, Iraq -- Since 1955, Marines and sailors of Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2 have been performing those command and staff functions necessary to accomplishing the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing mission.
Although 2ndMAW has deployed to fight battles in the skies over many foreign lands since its inception in July 1941, its headquarters squadron, affectionately referred to as "The Deuce," has remained in the states, providing its support from Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C.
That is, until now.
For the first time in its 60-year history, not only has MWHS-2 deployed as an entire unit, but to a combat zone, to support the aviation combat element of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq.
"The MWHS-2 Marines are very focused to perform professionally and swiftly on all projects that entail support of all the commands within the 2nd MAW (Fwd.,)" said Sgt. Maj. Michael Closterman, MWHS-2 sergeant major and native of Hope, R.I. "They are determined to give the most accurate and complete information that is required for the completion of the missions here."
"The Deuce" is a unique unit among the squadrons of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. Comprised of more than 20 different military occupational specialties, ranging from administrative clerks and logistics Marines, to intelligence analysts and food service specialists, the Marines and sailors of MWHS-2 hit the ground running when they arrived at Al Asad air base, Iraq, Feb. 16.
"Marines are meant to deploy," said Sgt. James D. Elrod, administrative clerk and native of Hickory, N.C. "I was kind of surprised to see a headquarters squadron of this size make the trip, but this is what we as Marines do every day."
Currently, the Marines of "The Deuce" are working day and night, providing security forces to guard the Tactical Aviation Command Center, monitoring and tracking ground and aviation supplies and logistics, supporting the command and control of operations, communications and intelligence, and improving moral and conditions around the air base.
"Considering the size of this unit and the diversity of the Marines and their mission, I am extremely proud of my Marines and sailors," said Lt. Col. Todd W. Schlund, commanding officer and native of S.D. "They take great pride in their jobs, their fellow Marines and sailors, and being a part of 'The Deuce.'"
According to Schlund, the Marines and sailors of MWHS-2 tackled the important tasks of pre-deployment training, embarkation and family readiness with great poise and professionalism, in light of the fact that the squadron had never deployed this number of personnel and equipment before.
"Every section helped each other to get us ready," Schlund said. "We all pulled the rope in the same direction and leaned forward to get this squadron ready."
As the squadron continues to complete its mission here day in and day out, Schlund said it's the support from home that keeps "The Deuce" going.
"If it wasn't for the love and support from the people who care about us back home, we wouldn't be able to be out here doing what we do to make this world a better place," Schlund said. "The families are just as much a part of this as anyone in uniform."
"The Marines, have surpassed our expectation with a quick and concise turn over and limited amount of time before we were up and running full mission capable," Closterman said. "The Marines of MWHS-2 are thoroughbreds and ready to run the race. They have the endurance to complete this mission at top running speed."