News: Silver Eagles spread wings during Cobra Gold
Story by Lance Cpl. Cayce Nevers
KORAT ROYAL THAI AIR FORCE BASE, Thailand — Military personnel of Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115, Marine Air Control Squadron 4, Detachment B and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12 began their involvement in Exercise Cobra Gold 2012 Feb. 7 by conducting bilateral and unit level training with the Thai Armed Forces, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company.
During Exercise Cobra Gold 2012, these squadrons are working to improve mission readiness by training with allies in scenarios and pilots working together to take out “enemies” on the ground by dropping ordnance and to complete semi-annual training for pilots.
“During Cobra Gold our mission is to work with our allies and to build up and improve on unit level training,” said Master Sgt. William Hetrick Jr., Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 aircraft maintenance chief. “My mission is to ensure my Marines are taken care of. They are, after all, the driving force behind success.”
While their job doesn’t change based on location, the intensity during exercises does.
“Back in Iwakuni, we fly jets at night and on the weekends. Here we only fly during the day so we do more flights than we would back in Beaufort in a shorter time,” said Lance Cpl. Crystal L. Rivera, VMFA-115 fixed-wing mechanic.
Another major factor of Exercise Cobra Gold 2012 is teamwork.
“The teamwork my shop has is amazing,” said Rivera. “Camaraderie is a big part of getting things done. Without it the aircraft aren’t flying and the exercise wouldn’t take place.”
Throughout the training evolution, squadrons will work to become proficient in surface-to-air exercises, daytime close-air support and air interdiction.
“When you are on deployments like these you are given more responsibility,” said Cpl. Jordon Jewett, VMFA-115 fixed-wing mechanic. “I am always learning something new.”
Another challenge the Marines overcome on a daily basis during this exercise is minimal gear.
“It’s more difficult to fix the aircraft when you are low on supplies or when you don’t have them at all,” said Jewett. “You can only bring so much when you move around a lot.”
Exercise Cobra Gold is a Thai and U.S. co-sponsored multinational, multiservice exercise that includes forces from Singapore, Japan, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and representatives from other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.