Photo Information

A pillar of smoke and debris erupts from the ground as seen through the camera of one of VMFA-142's F/A-18A+ Hornets. The Hornets responded to a call from 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment who had engaged insurgents hunkered down in an isolated building on March 18.

Photo by Official Marine Corps Photo

VMFA-142 Gators put steel on target

21 Mar 2005 | Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis

Aircraft from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 142, a reserve unit, responded to a call for air support from 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, a reserve infantry battalion, who were conducting security patrols in the Al Anbar province on March 18.

Two of the squadron's F/A-18A+ Hornets responded to the call from a 3/25 forward air controller, who spoke with the pilots to coordinate the air strike, after the Marines were engaged by enemy fire.

Using an infrared laser, the Hornets were guided to the target by the forward air controller on the ground, only 30 minutes after receiving the first call for support, the pilots had delivered their ordnance.

"It was hard to see at night, but the systems on our aircraft, and competence of the controller on the ground allowed us to destroy the target swiftly," said one of the pilots who asked not to be named.

On that night, 3/25 encountered two men armed with automatic rifles who appeared to be digging a hole for an improvised explosive device. The Marines engaged the insurgents, who fled to an isolated building. After continued small-arms engagement, the VMFA-142 aircraft arrived and eliminated the enemy threat with two 500lbs, laser guided bombs.

Although neither unit knew it at the time, both the Marines on the ground and in the air are from reserve units, and their actions are a testament to the readiness and preparation of the Marine Corps reserves.

"We are equally able to function with active duty and reserve forces," said Lt. Col. Tracey A. Farris, VMFA-142 executive officer and native of Nashville, Tenn. "We are all cut from the same template, so there are no obstacles or barriers that prevent us from completing the mission."

While the Marines of 3/25, headquartered in Brook Park, Ohio, continue to patrol the towns and cities of Iraq, VMFA-142, based out of Marietta, Ga., will continue to provide precision strikes to support them from the air.

"Our pilots and maintenance Marines are extremely well prepared," Farris said. "They constantly work to stay on top of the latest technology, tactics and procedures so we can provide the support the Marines on the ground want and expect."



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