Photo Information

AL ASAD, Iraq (May 9, 2005) - Cpl. Brandon C. Hall, airframes mechanic and native of Houston, prepares to replace and service the hydraulic fluid on one of Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224's F/A-18D Hornets. Hall and the Marines of VMFA(AW)-224 have recently surpassed 3,000 combat flight hours since their arrival here in January.

Photo by Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis

Bengals continue fight in Iraqi skies

9 May 2005 | Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis

The Fighting Bengals of Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 have achieved a milestone by logging more than 3,000 combat flight hours and 1,400 combat sorties in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Well on their way to 4,000 hours, the hard work and dedication of the Marines
and sailors of VMFA(AW)-224 have enabled the squadron to continue to provide air
support to ground units with their F/A-18D Hornets.

“We are flying almost double the amount of hours we normally fly back in the
States,” said 1st Lt. Michael R. Greene, weapons and sensors officer and native of
Washingtonville, N.Y. “We are able to do this because the entire squadron is working as
a team. Every department, every section, works extremely hard each day to ensure our
birds can fly.”

Although attached to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) in most ways, the
squadron has been receiving mission tasking from the Combined Air Component
Command since its arrival in January.

In a few days, the Bengals will begin receiving mission tasking from the 2nd
MAW, as their tour with the CAFCC comes to an end.

Because of the versatility and capabilities of their two-seat Hornets, the squadron
has worked non-stop to ensure the readiness of their aircraft.

“There is always a real sense of urgency in everything we do,” said Cpl. Adam L.
Blank, airframes night-shift supervisor and native of Geneseo, Ill. “We know that
Marines on the ground are depending on us to do our jobs, and do them right.”

The Bengals’ commanding officer attributes the achievements of the squadron to
the hard work and dedication of the maintenance department. Working around the clock,
seven days a week, the maintainers have kept the Hornets in the fight.

“We have 210 Marines in this squadron, and it takes every one of them to perform
at the level we have been,” said Lt. Col. Will E. Thomas, commanding officer and native
of Kingston, Pa. “One word describes their work ethic, tireless. They believe in our
mission and work each day to provide the best air ground support possible.”

“Our squadron is blessed with great leaders, staff noncommissioned officers and
noncommissioned officers,” said Gunnery Sgt. Richard P. Bright, quality assurance chief
and native of Lone Grove, Okla. “We have a wealth of experience, and by their
motivation to learn and excel in their jobs, the younger Marines are echoing the same
enthusiasm.”

With the maintenance department broken down into various shops and sections,
teamwork within the department is critical to mission accomplishment.

Bright said the Marines have always been able to depend on each other, regardless
of section, to tackle any task that comes their way.

“No one shop thinks they are better than another,” Bright said. “That allows us to
work together for the good of the whole mission. Everyone is on the same page, striving
for the same goal.”

“Everyone helps out each other,” Blank said. “There is always someone willing to
give you a hand when you are swamped, the same as you help them when you have less
to do.”

As the squadron prepares to fly under the direction of the 2nd MAW, the Marines
are prepared to tackle the new assignment with the same enthusiasm and dedication.

“We are here supporting a just cause and the Marines are committed to this
mission,” Thomas said. “I couldn’t be any prouder to be their commander. Regardless of
whom we receive our tasking from; these Marines are going to accomplish the mission.”

*For more information about the Marines or news reported on in this
story, please contact Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis by e-mail at defilippisrc@acemnf-
wiraq.usmc.mil*
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