News: Marine pilot returns home for Fleet Week New York 2012
Story by Cpl. Tyler J. Bolken
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. - Alike a flying Ferrari bolstered with three-barreled Gatling Guns and rocket launchers, the Super Cobra gunships and its tandem partner the Huey demand respect and attention on the battle field and are poised aboard USS Wasp to do the same during Fleet Week New York, through May 30.
Marines with Marine Light Attack Squadron 467 departed Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, May 21, on their way to Fleet Week New York to demonstrate and display their unit's capabilities. The Marines rode MV-22 Ospreys to USS Wasp.
The squadron sent one UH-1N Huey and AH-1W Super Cobra to New York before their departure. The Marines will be representatives for their unit, their aircraft and the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing as a whole.
Typically hosted by the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and United States Coast Guard, fleet week is traditionally when military ships return from deployments and dock in a major city for one week. The crews are then released into the city to visit tourist attractions along with giving guided tours to the public of the ship they rode in on.
Along with the Cobra and its equally effective counterpart, the UH-1N Huey, 28 Marines from Cherry Point based Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467are poised on the Wasp providing maintenance support to the aircraft and answering questions and posing for photos with Fleet Week visitors.
It is the first trip to the Big Apple for many of the Marines. But for pilot Capt. Matthew J. Castagna, native of the nearby Long Island suburb of Deer Park, it’s a chance to show what he does to some important people in his life.
“It’s a chance to show them a part of what we do,” Castagna said of family and friends. “We can talk on the phone, be around them – they get it – but they don’t really get it.”
Castagna had several influences toward military service growing up but none as strong as the Sept. 11 attacks that struck so close to home in 2001. He joined the Marine Corps in 2008.
Knowing he wanted to be a pilot, Castagna set his eyes on Cobras conscious of the up-close nature of Marine close-air support .
“It brings you into the fight,” he said of an aircraft capable of flying nearly 200 mph and dispensing suppressive fire at nearly 650 rounds per minute. “The first time I saw one, it gave me a tingle. Just eyes on the aircraft alone is an impressive sight.”
Castagna said he said he hopes his fellow Marines get a true sense of the people of New York City, and how much they appreciate what it is they do and their sacrifice.