News: Squadrons work to improve for next deployment
Story by Lance Cpl. Kenneth Trotter
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam – Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 and Strike Fighter Squadron 94 wrapped up training here, Oct. 28, as part of a monthlong training to the region.
The overall focus of the exercise was to promote mission readiness
as put forth by Maj. Gen. William D. Beydler, 1st Marine Air Wing
This was achieved by improving proficiency and efficiency in aerial
combat, and ordnance loading.
“Our mission here is to be ready to execute at a high level and fight and win,” said Lt. Col. Matthew H. Phares, VMFA -115 commanding officer. “This has been a great training opportunity for us to be ready to [accomplish] our mission.”
While here, VMFA -115 and VFA - 94 performed various training exercises, ranging from aerial banner shoot outs, rocket training
and live ordnance drops on an uninhabited island off the coast.
Approximately 190,000 pounds of ordnance and 16,000 rounds of ammunition were expended by both squadrons during the course
of the exercise.
The experience of working alongside another squadron also allowed for the increased opportunities in training and mission readiness, said Phares.
“It gives us the ability to get more [aircraft] airborne at the same time, which allows us to build large-force exercises and get large-scale training; the type of missions we would fly in combat. We’re replicating as close to real combat here with those exercises,” said Phares. “It’s very difficult for a single squadron to generate that many sorties. When [we] combine assets, we’re able to get a significant number of aircraft to put on those exercises.”
The squadrons were able to accomplish this through the support of MALS-12.
MALS-12 played a role in providing logistical support to both squadrons as they went about their training by keeping a steady flow of parts for the squadrons’ F/A-18s.
“We’re working to ensure they have their [aircraft] parts as soon as possible,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Glenn D. Baker, MALS-12 detachment staff non-commissioned officer in charge. “Our [commanding officer’s] intent is to have zero non-mission capable aircraft and by us keeping the aircraft flying we meet his intent.”
The concept of one team, one fight resonated throughout the entire month as the squadrons worked with the Air Force, providing the means to conduct their training at a moment’s notice, but it went much deeper than that for some.
“We’re more than ‘one team, one fight’; we’re one family,” said Master Sgt. William E. Hetrick Jr., VMFA -115 aircraft maintenance chief. “That’s the one thing [we] take away from working as close
as we do with VFA -94 and MALS-12. It’s great to see what others do day-in and day-out.”
That ground-level approach to working together allowed the squadrons to understand one another and how they accomplish their goals while training.
“We learned a few different things from each other as we’ve helped each other while out here,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Elizabeth Nunez, VFA -94 aviation ordnanceman. “They have the same procedures but different ways of doing it.”
The experience of working in a joint environment, coupled with the need to improve various skill sets for all three squadrons, was
one of the main concerns for service members for whom this is their first deployment.
“The experience, whether it’s good or bad, if they can put this in their toolbox and set themselves up for success down the road, then this was a successful exercise,” said Hetrick.
November will be busy for the squadrons as they will have a short amount of time to train and prepare their personnel and aircraft to return to Guam and start training once more.
The experience of training in Guam will be essential to the squadrons’ continued success as they prepare to return to Guam, which they are slated to do in December to continue their training.