News: Eagles take flight
Story by Lance Cpl. Elyssa Quesada
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. - Approximately 230 Marines and Sailors with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115, also known as the Silver Eagles, departed today for a six-month Western Pacific deployment.
The deployment is part of the Unit Deployment Program, which is a scheduled rotation in which units deploy to ensure a forward deployed presence in Asia.
"We have been working up over the past several months on what type of environment we might see in the western region," said Capt. Patrick Cossgrove, a pilot with VMFA-115.
While deployed, the Silver Eagles will be participating in multiple exercises. The F/A-18 Hornet squadron will participate in Ryuau Air Warrior and more.
"We spent most of June in Mojave Viper, [Twentynine Palms, Calif.]," Cossgrove said. "We've also practiced recent air-to-ground exercises and the past few months without focus on air-to-air contingencies."
By making sure all annual training was completed, the Silver Eagles have made sure not only are their aircraft ready for the deployment, but also their Marines.
"We have all of our Marines ready for the deployment," said Cpl. Matthew Silcox, an aviation operation specialist. "Going to El Centro, [Calif.], was a good opportunity to get some training in for the upcoming WestPac."
A detachment of approximately 30 Marines with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 are deploying with the Silver Eagles, according to Cossgrove.
"I'm looking forward to working with different countries," Silcox said. "I'd like to see what the differences are between the United States and another country."
For some, this is their first deployment. During the UDP, Marines and Sailors will get to experience a world of cultures and the chance to work with foreign military.
"This is my first deployment," Cossgrove said. "Being able to experience the different cultures during the WestPac and conducting training exercises with the WestPac Air Fleet forces will be a good learning experience."
This is just one example of the flexibility U.S. forces have to meet our ongoing commitments and obligations by maintaining a presence throughout the Western Pacific region.
"During the deployment I hope to become more proficient and tactical in the air-to-air arena and more aware of potential adversary threat tactics and technology," Cossgrove said.