MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
If you were high in the sky on a recent Friday afternoon, peering down on Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2 here, you would have seen a crowd of people gathered for a very unusual occasion. They were the family and friends of a Marine who pioneered the very technology that provides an “eye in the sky” for Marines who need it on the ground.
It was May 22, 2015 – a day they would all mark on their calendars as the day they met to remember and celebrate the contributions of the late Gunnery Sgt. Anthony J. Wisnewski by branding an RQ-2B Pioneer UAV in his honor.
Wisnewski earned the Eagle, Globe and Anchor in 1984, and eventually became one of the pioneering Marines involved with unmanned aerial vehicles. In1996, Staff Sgt. Wisnewski reported for duty with Marine Aircraft Group 14. He was one of the first among a small group of Marines to train for the 7314 Military Occupational Specialty, UAV operator.
Wisnewski retired from active duty service in 2004 and was a combat veteran and recipient of numerous personal awards during his 20-year career. Following his retirement from the Corps, he continued to serve the local community in law enforcement. Wisnewski passed away in February.
Master Sgt. Jose R. Gonzalez III, operations chief with Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2, served with Wisnewski during his first tour. He remembers sitting knee to knee with other young Marines as Wisnewski shared with them his many experiences with the aircraft. Wisnewski’s legacy continues on in Gonzalez and Marines just like him who operate these important aircraft today. “A lot of us older guys today credit him to us staying in the Marine Corps.”
“Everything that is taught to UAV operator Marines – tactics, techniques and procedures that we do – is built upon the foundation he helped to lay,” said Staff Sgt. Bradley A. Wells, a UAV operator with VMU-2. “His experience has brought us to where we are, tactically and technically.”
According to Wells, as one of the Corps’ first UAV operators and the community’s earliest weapons and tactics instructors – Wisnewski helped lay the groundwork for 21st Century Marines’ eyes in the sky and for taking Marine aviation where it had never been.
“Unmanned Marine Corps aviation would not be the same without Gunnery Sgt. Wisnewski’s contributions and influence.” Lt. Col. Kristopher Faught, commanding officer at VMU-2, may have said it best.