News: Moondogs return from supporting Afghanistan operations
Story by Cpl. Scott L. Tomaszycki
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. - Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3 returned to Cherry Point Saturday after a seven-month deployment to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
The squadron flies the EA-6B Prowler, a strategic asset utilized by CENTOM to jam communications and enemy radar capabilities, among other things. The Moondogs performed combat sorties mostly over Afghanistan.
“For the most part we found ourselves doing Operation Enduring Freedom sorties supporting the ground combat element that was out in Afghanistan,” said Capt. Craig Platt, an electronic countermeasures officer with VMAQ-3. “As things start to draw down to a close, I think that airborne electronic attack capability is needed more than ever. Having us out there ready to support the mission made a big difference in the end.”
Prowlers are sometimes used to jam insurgent communications for the direct benefit of International Security Assistance Force troops on the ground.
The squadron’s maintenance Marines worked around the clock to keep the Prowlers operational in the combat zone. Maintenance personnel often work 12 hour shifts so someone is always on hand to maintain or repair aircraft.
“It’s definitely a lot more demanding when you’re overseas,” said Cpl. Robert Starmer, an avionics technician with the squadron. “It’s basically game time; that’s when you want everything squared away and everything you’ve done back here to train for it comes into play. You work a lot harder and learn a lot more about the jet because that’s what you’re doing seven days a week, 12 hours a day.”
While the hours were long and the job tough, the Marines felt their effort directly supported efforts in Afghanistan and helped improve their own lives as well.
“It was definitely worth it,” said Starmer. “That’s why I joined the Marine Corps – to better myself and my country. I feel like I accomplished that over there.”
“It was my first deployment, so I didn’t know what to expect,” said Cpl. Hunter Squier, an electronic countermeasures technician. “We worked hard, worked a lot and gained a lot of knowledge. It definitely feels good to know we’re making a difference and helping keep the guys on the ground from getting injured.”