MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. — Approximately 90 Marines with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 deployed to Afghanistan this week to fill critical roles that were being supported by fellow 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing personnel. Marines and Sailors from other units including Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 14 and 2nd MAW headquarters also joined their fellow service members downrange this week, stepping in to take over essential roles across various support sections.
“Essentially, there is a group of service members from different units banded together going out to support 2nd MAW (Fwd.) to replace troops during a turnover that marks the halfway point of a year-long deployment,” said Maj. Stephen D. Driskill, the 2nd MAW (Fwd.) watch officer. “We are going out there with a conglomeration of different military occupational specialties and billets.”
In January, 2nd MAW (Fwd.) deployed to Afghanistan to take over the role as the lead aviation combat element for southwestern Afghanistan, replacing 3rd MAW (Fwd.) as part of NATO operations in partnership with Afghan National Security Forces.
During the deployment, 2nd MAW (Fwd.) has been providing aviation support to troops on the ground, including close-air support, troop transport, assault transport and medical evacuations.
“Otis” Marines will use their KC-130Js and a Harvest Hawk to help them accomplish their mission, said Capt. Andrew D. Meyers, the VMGR-252 operations officer.
“The Harvest Hawk will benefit 2nd MAW,” said Meyers. “It is a unique platform that allows us to bring more capabilities. We will be able to stay on station longer during missions, instead of having to keep refueling, so our time is maximized because we can fill the voids that may be created if other assets have to leave the fight. Therefore, we eliminate battlefield turnover.”
The Harvest Hawk also boasts a multi-imagery system, a missile rack with four AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and another internal bomb rack that can hold eight AGM-176 Griffin Block II B missiles inside the aircraft.
Meyers said he has total confidence in the abilities of the Marines and their aircraft.
“The KC-130 is a stellar aircraft with a good reputation,” he said. “The detachment of Marines we have in the fight right now have performed great so far; we are expecting to follow that reputation and continue to conduct combat operations as expected.”
Meyers said he is excited about the deployment because it is the culmination of everything the Marines have been working toward.
“The thing that makes KC-130 squadrons unique is the fact that they are operational even when in garrison,” said Meyers. “The missions that we conduct here on a daily basis are the same missions we conduct in combat.”
Driskill said he believes the deployment will go smoothly.
“I’ve heard nothing but good things about what’s going on downrange,” he said. “Everything is going well. The Marines are getting the job done and excelling by going above and beyond that.”