News: Silver Eagles surge over Iwakuni
Story by Lance Cpl. Charles Clark
IWAKUNI, Japan - Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115, also known as the Silver Eagles, tore through cloudy skies for a scheduled surge day here Feb. 29.
“A surge day is a test of our abilities to perform as many sorties as we would expect in a mission given to us from Marine Aircraft Group 12,” said Master Sgt. William E. Hetrick Jr., VMFA-115 maintenance chief. “We test ourselves with surge days. It really pushes our Marines to be their best at what they do.”
Along with pushing the Silver Eagles to their limit, a surge day also provides an excellent training ground to complete annual certifications and military occupation specialty requirements.
“This is a great way to show just what the Silver Eagles can do if we are tasked with a mission,” said Hetrick. “We are constantly striving for perfection and mission readiness.”
The F/A-18A pilots trained in close-air-support, air-to-air and air-to-ground tactics to complete their certifications, qualifications and requirements while the maintenance Marines went about the flightline to catch, repair, refuel and launch aircraft to ensure a steady flow of sorties.
The average goal for sorties flown during a surge day is anywhere
from 20 to 30. With eight aircraft and approximately 30 maintainers, VMFA-115 Marines were able to push out more than 32 safe and successful sorties in one regular workday.
“The reason for this kind of training is to help our brothers on the ground if we are called to action in this area of operations,” said Hetrick.
The air operations and exercises the pilots perform are what makes the Silver Eagles fly as proud as they do, but the VMFA-115 maintenance Marines are the blood in the veins of the squadron who keep the training moving.
“Our aircraft are more than a few years old, but we keep them up to par with the newest fighters right off the line,” said Lance Cpl. Matthew E. Williams, a VMFA-115 aircraft mechanic.
The maintenance Marines worked on aircraft after aircraft to meet the requirements of the squadron, the mission and their certifications.
At the end of the day, the Silver Eagle pilots and maintenance Marines proved the mutual respect they share for each other goes beyond the bounds of maintaining aircraft and flying sorties.
“The pilots put a lot of faith in our abilities to maintain the aircraft,” said Williams. “I think that shows we are more than a squadron. It shows we are a family.”