News: VMA-311 gives up the ocean, returns to the desert
Story by Cpl. Shelby Shields
YUMA, Ariz. — Approximately 150 Marines and sailors with Marine Attack Squadron 311 returned home, June 7, from a six month deployment in support of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit based in Okinawa, Japan.
“By and large, we were there to support wherever we were needed,” said Sgt. Maj. William Shaw, the VMA-311 sergeant major. “We are the big brother of the world; we’re trained to support just as much as we’re trained to fight. Fighting is only a piece of the pie.”
During the deployment, Marines visited Okinawa, Iwakuni and Sasebo, Japan, and conducted approximately seven major all-hands movements.
“The ability to pick up, move, set in and get operational as quickly as possible is crucial,” said Shaw. “For the entire squadron to pick up and move on and off ship as fast as they did is incredible.”
In addition to large movements, Marines took the opportunity to train and progress their skills.
“We are training our young Marines today to be tomorrow’s leaders,” said Shaw. “On this trip alone we got 15 Marines up to resident PME (professional military education) and advanced our qualifications that are organic to what we do.”
Marines also spent time joint training with both the Air Force and the Navy.
“A tool unused is a useless tool,” said Shaw. “Getting this training with our sister services can only make us better and it’s a great chance to learn more about each other.”
Overall, the deployment proved successful, beneficial and educational for everyone aboard, but Marines were definitely happy to be home with their loved ones.
“It comes down to one thing; we have good Marines, that’s it,” added Shaw. “In addition to our Marines we have an outstanding family readiness program, have a person that is dedicated and engaged is the most reassuring thing when we’re gone and away from our families.”
Families and friends of VMA-311 gathered at the squadron’s hangar to welcome home their Marines. The homecoming event was also broadcast live online to allow supporters who could not be there to join in on the occasion.
“A lot of guys were coming back and seeing their kids for the first time. Those are memories that are going to last forever,” said Shaw. “Our welcome was just amazing. Marines were raving about the media broadcast and getting to see everyone they cared about.”
Since their return, the VMA-311 Marines are continuing on with their daily missions and preparing for a future deployment in support of the 15th MEU based in Marines Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.