News: MAG-29 rumbles during Carolina Thunder
Story by Cpl. Scott L. Tomaszycki
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. - Marine Aircraft Group 29 took to the field for Exercise Carolina Thunder 2013 March 18 through 26. The group, which provides 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing’s full array of rotor-wing assets, practiced core capabilities with logistical support from Marine Wing Support Squadron 274.
Before units can engage the enemy on the battlefield, logistical issues must be addressed. Marines need food, shelter, hygiene and medical facilities, a place to arm and fuel their helicopters and more. During Carolina Thunder, MWSS-274 provided the ground support MAG-29 squadrons need to operate in an expeditionary environment.
“We bring the base, they bring the airplanes,” said Capt. Rex L. Brooks III, the operations officer of MWSS-274. “We can take a forested area, level it, grade it, draft and survey it, put AM-2 matting down, and then we can bring helicopters from the ship to the shore.”
Once MWSS-274 sets up the base, the aviation squadrons can begin carrying out missions like raids, airfield seizures, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, offensive air support, and aerial reconnaissance from a forward environment. During Carolina Thunder, the group practiced these abilities throughout eastern North Carolina.
In addition to building the base itself, the support squadron is also required to keep it supplied and defended. The motor transportation company conducted a nine-hour convoy operation March 21 to practice delivering crucial supplies to a forward operating base. Engineers built defensive towers and set up concertina wire. After MAG-29 left Bogue Friday, MWSS-274 stayed behind and used the engineers’ defenses to repel simulated attacks until Tuesday.
“Anything that is a base operation, we handle,” said Brooks. “The unique part of this exercise is the fact that we have a Marine wing support squadron out here supporting all of the MAG’s aviation squadrons with aviation ground support. This morning, we were two shy of having 500 boots on the ground in this camp and 186 of those people are MWSS. It’s a pretty significant cross section.”
Previously, all of 2nd MAW’s support squadrons were organized under Marine Wing Support Group 27. After the group’s deactivation in May, the support squadrons were divided among individual aircraft groups.
“It’s absolutely vital that we have MWSS-274 they provide us all the aviation ground support services that we need in order to accomplish our mission,” said Maj. Joseph R. Jackson, the future operations officer of MAG-29. “We would not be able to function without them.”