News: In blackest night, VMFA-314 flies through training
Story by Lance Cpl. Charles Clark
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan - Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314, an F/A 18 Hornet squadron based out of
Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., has been keeping its Marines combat ready by conducting training operations here and
around the region.
In 1982, VMFA-314 became the first squadron in the Marine Corps or Navy to employ the F/A-18 Hornet-jet.
VMFA-314 landed here March 9 as part of the Unit Deployment Program.
The UDP deploys units to the Western Pacific to reduce the number of unaccompanied tours and improve unit continuity.
While VMFA-314 is in WESTPAC, they are part of Marine Aircraft Group 12.
“We did a lot of close air support as well as armed reconnaissance work during Foal Eagle 2011,” said Capt. Justin Floyd, VMFA-314 S-6 schedule officer.
The purpose of exercise Foal Eagle is to test the U.S. and South Korean forces’ ability to defend against threats, protect the region and maintain stability on the Korean peninsula.
“We’ve also gotten three of our wingmen night systems qualified since we’ve been in Iwakuni,” said Floyd. “That makes the squadron a lot more flexible.”
Having three more VMFA-314 pilots night systems qualified allows the unit to fly night missions during operations.
“We train like we fight,” Floyd said. “We have to be ready for absolutely anything.”
Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 has worked closely with VMFA-314 during their operations here by coordinating simulated close air support.
VMFA-314 has flown approximately 24 sorties a day and accumulated approximately 520 flight hours since its arrival here.
Flying missions are only one aspect of the training to keep VMFA-314 Marines ready for combat.
The maintenance Marines, who work day and night on the aircraft, play a huge role in the squadron’s operability.
“We’re making sure the mission gets done out here,” said Cpl. Thomas Bonde, a VMFA-314 aircraft mechanic. “If we can’t keep the aircraft running, then the pilots won’t be able to complete their mission. It’s a symbiotic relationship. We love to turn wrenches on these jets, and they love to fly them.”
MAG-12 provided ground support equipment to support the VMFA-314 mechanics.
“It’s important that we network with the station MAG to use their equipment,” Bonde said. “Otherwise, we would have to wait for
our gear to get here.”
The VMFA-314 communication and navigation Marines play a vital role to the squadron.
“We make sure the pilots know when and where they are suppose to be going, so they aren’t flying blind,” said Sgt. Jonah Burnett, communication and navigation non-commissioned officer in charge. “We also keep track of the inventory manifests for the maintenance Marines and the gear we’re using here.”
VMFA-314’s next mission is slated to operate out of Kadena Air Base Okinawa, Japan.