AL ASAD, Iraq -- Marines on the flightline of Al Asad do not often get to hear how much their work helps their fellow warriors on the ground. They know their bombs are dropped on target and that the cargo makes it there in time, but they rarely get face to face with the Marines they support. One Marine recently came to Al Asad to tell the Marines just how much their job is appreciated by their fellow Leathernecks.
Lt. Gen. James Mattis, the commander of U. S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command, spent the day telling Marines of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) how proud he was of the work they have done.
The first group of Marines Mattis addressed belonged to Marine Wing Support Group 27. Mattis specifically talked to Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 and 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion.
“It was pretty motivating,” said Cpl. Orey Meredith, a machine gunner with MWSS-271’s Incident Response Platoon and a Van, Texas, native. “He seemed like a really knowledgeable man. It seemed like he knows a lot about war-fighting tactics and what’s going on out here.”
Mattis asked the Marines how their deployment has been so far and talked to them about changes that have happened since the start of the war. Mattis reminded the Marines that a few years ago they would not have been able to stand outside and talk because of the fear of indirect fire. Mattis also answered questions from the Marines ranging from re-enlistments to the new Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicles.
Mattis also visited the squadron spaces of Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 121. Mattis talked to the squadron’s maintenance Marines and told them how much their job affects the Marines on the ground.
“It was motivating,” said Lance Cpl. Nicholas Eisen, a maintenance administration clerk with VMFA(AW)-121 and an Allendale, Mich., native. “It was good to see some of the top brass out here, and hear their view on things. A lot of questions were answered as far as where the war is going and exactly what we’re doing here. It was good hear that we were doing a good job for the guys on the ground, that we were helping them out.”
Hearing Mattis tell them how much impact their job has on the Corps’ mission in Iraq inspired the Marines, according to Lt. Col. Joseph Craft, the VMFA(AW)-121 commanding officer.
“The fact that he took the time to congratulate the Marines on their success, and encourage them to uphold the standards that they have right now, it meant a lot to them,” said Craft. “They talked about it for a long time after he left.”
“He’s a dynamic speaker too,” added Craft, a Springfield, Va., native. “You can’t walk away with a much higher degree of motivation than when you hear him speak.”