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Bravo Battery Marines Tour Washington

QUANTICO, Va.

Marines with Bravo Battery, 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, packed their bags and headed to Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., for a lesson on Marine Corps history and a tour of the nation’s capital, Dec. 15-19.

According to 1st Sgt. Wesley O. Turner, the first sergeant for Bravo Battery, the trip was designed to give the battery’s Marines a chance to learn about the lineage of Marines past and to honor the sacrifice of previous generations of service members.

“The trip was designed to give the Marines background on their history and put it into perspective,” said Turner, a native of Kansas City, Mo. “Each day of the trio was intended to teach the Marines something different.”

During the trip, the Marines of the battery occupied a squad bay at the Marine Corps’ Officer Candidates School at Quantico. After claiming their racks and sorting out their gear, they prepared for day one, which included tackling the Tarzan Course at OCS.

According to Capt. Konrad N. Reese, commanding officer of Bravo Battery, the course gave the junior leaders within the battery a chance to challenge their Marines and build camaraderie.

“We chose to have the Marines take on the course to build unit cohesion and assess their mental courage,” said Reese. “Nothing makes a Marine more willing to overcome their fears than having everyone he knows cheering him on.”

The Tarzan Course was a blast, said Pfc. Isaac E. Moir, a gunner with the battery.

“The course wasn’t a cake walk,” said Moir, a native of Aurora, Colo. “Once you make it to around the half way point there is very little feeling left in your forearms. However, for me, the best part was after I finished and watching everyone else’s different approaches to the obstacles and cheering them on.”

On day two, the Marines visited the National Museum of the Marine Corps, outside the main gate of the Crossroads of the Marine Corps, as Quantico is known. According to Sgt. Anthony J. Zeitz, a section with 2nd Platoon, the visit gave the Marines a chance to learn about and view the history of the Corps and help give perspective to the junior leaders within the battery.

“I think for many of the Marines, myself included, going to the museum brought out who we are as Marines and reignited the flame that inspired us to join,” said Zeitz, a native of Olcott, N.Y.

During the third day, the Marines visited Arlington National Cemetery and toured the National Mall.

At the nation’s cemetery for service members, the Marines trod hallowed ground where more than 400 thousand service members are buried. During the tour, the battery’s Marines viewed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a living monument to the sacrifice of service members across the generations, and stood solemnly during a burial ceremony.

“Visiting the cemetery opened my eyes,” said Moir. “It’s one thing to hear how many lives were lost but it is and completely jaw dropping to see it. It was an intense atmosphere.”

After touring the cemetery, the Marines explored the other monuments and memorials around the National Capital Region, a city rich with history, said Zeitz.

“A lot of guys bonded over the memorials,” said Zeitz. “Many of the Marines had family who fought in pervious wars but didn’t know about it until then.”

On the final day of the trip, the Marines visited Marine Barracks Washington, home of the Commandant of the Marine Corps. A special tour guide, First Lady of the Marine Corps Ellyn Dunford, explained the history and significance of the installation at 8th and I.

“The tour was amazing,” said Zeitz. “The house is full of history and Mrs. Dunford explaining everything to us, which made the experience even more unique.”

According to Reese, the battery’s leaders see the benefits of connecting their Marines to the past and providing a link to the Corps’ history and hope to make similar trips in the future.

“I believe the trip had a great impact on the Marines,” said Reese. “Our goal now is to make this experience an annual event for the battery.”

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MACG-28 Marines, Sailors Return From Deployment

CHERRY POINT, N.C. – More than 200 Marines and Sailors with Marine Air Control Group 28 (Forward) returned to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Jan. 13 and 16, ending a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan.

While deployed, MACG-28 provided Marine airspace command and control in support of Regional Command (Southwest), the Afghan military led coalition of U.S. and NATO Forces in southwestern Afghanistan.

“The Marines and Sailors of MACG-28 (Fwd.) performed exceptionally well,” said Maj. Jimmy Hicks, the executive officer of MACG-28 (Fwd.). “Working very long hours, seven days a week and in some very arduous remote conditions, all Marines and Sailors went above and beyond. I’m very proud of everything they accomplished.”

During the deployment, MACG-28 was instrumental in a smooth transition of tactical control of airspace between the Marine Corps and the Air Force. According to Hicks, a highlight of the deployment was the movement of the TPS-59 radar.

“A lot of work was put into the handover of airspace control to the Air Force which enabled us to send home the TPS-59 and the controllers and maintainers responsible for its operation,” said Hicks. “This was significant because it was a sign that we were quickly reducing capability in Afghanistan and coming closer to the end of mission.”

As part of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Fwd.), MACG-28 acted as a force multiplier for all Marine aircraft assets in RC(SW), said Hicks.
“We were assigned as a subordinate, separate and detached command under 2nd MAW (Fwd.),” he said. “We enabled the flying squadrons of the wing through timely and responsive aviation command and control to process air support requests, coordinate surface fires, positively control aircraft, and maintain the computer networks and systems that support the wing.”

At Cherry Point, family members packed the air station’s chapel to welcome their loved ones home.

“I’m feeling really anxious and excited for him to get back,” said Janelle Williams, wife of Petty Officer Zackary Williams, a corpsman with Marine Air Control Squadron 2. “It’s been so long and I just want him to see us again.”

Donna Wynn made a nine-hour car ride from Georgia with her husband in order to see her son Sgt. James Wynn, a meteorology and oceanography forecaster with Marine Wing Support Squadron 272 out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., return safely.

“My heart started beating really fast when we made it on to the air station,” said Donna. “I’m ready to see him again and know he is safe.”

Emotions grew as white buses carried Marines and Sailors to the chapel where they reunited with their families.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet that I’m back with my family,” said Wynn. “However, it’s good to be home…it really is.”

Marine Corps Commandant Checks In On Cherry Point

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C.

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos visited Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point April 18 with Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Micheal P. Barrett.

During the visit, the commandant discussed the state of the Corps, his vision for the future and provided guidance to more than 1,500 officers and senior enlisted at the station theater.

Maj. Gen. Jon M. Davis, commanding general of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, greeted Amos and Barrett outside the tower on the Cherry Point flight line.

Lt. Gen. John Paxton, commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force, and Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Gorry, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations East, were also on hand for the visit.

Marine Sergeant Major Serves With Son In Afghanistan

As Sgt. Maj. Henry Prutch’s yearlong tour in Afghanistan draws to a close, only one thing worried him – he might not get to see his son out here.

But Lance Cpl. Scott Prutch, a landing support specialist with Combat Logistics Battalion 4, flew in to Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, to begin a six-month deployment to Helmand province, Jan. 28.

The sergeant major is preparing to return home to eastern North Carolina in about a month as his unit, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), hands responsibility over to 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) in the early spring.

“I knew it would be close, so this worked out pretty good,” said the elder Prutch. “I missed his graduation from boot camp in April.”

As the sergeant major for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), Henry Prutch serves as the senior enlisted advisor to Maj. Gen. Glenn M. Walters, the flag officer responsible for all Marine Corps combat aviation operations in southwestern Afghanistan.

Scott said his dad, a Marine with 29 years of experience, has had some pretty good advice for him, and provided a lot of support for him when he decided to join.

“I had a lot of knowledge beforehand from conversations at the dinner table,” said Scott, who was recruited out of Havelock, N.C.
Scott said that he feels prepared and excited to begin his tour in Afghanistan.

“With my team, with the support company I’m a part of, I’m 100 percent confident we will be successful,” he said.

The sergeant major had some words of encouragement for his son as he begins his first combat deployment.

“Enjoy your time out here one day at a time. It’s never as bad as you think it is,” Henry Prutch said. “You’re with a good unit, they’ll be successful, and it’ll be a good opportunity.”

Scott described his goals for his time in the Marines as furthering his career and education. His dad seemed to like the plan.

“Seeing him wear this uniform, it’s a good feeling, it makes me proud. Personally, you want the best for your kids, want them to succeed and be happy in life,” the sergeant major said. “I know a lot of the young Marines are the same age. He’s going to succeed or not succeed based on his own ability.”

“Being in the Marines, I can wake up and know what I have to do each day,” Scott added. “It’s a nice little set up – you work hard, you do what you’re supposed to do, and you’ll succeed.”

Cpl. Brian Adam Jones

DVIDS

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Marine Aviation Key To Major Offensive In Afghanistan

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Under the veil of darkness, a team of Marine Corps CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters sped over the Helmand River valley in early October.

Carrying nearly 100 Afghan commandos and their Marine advisers, the helicopters delivered them into the valley, just south of the Kajaki Dam.

The Afghan and American troops were the first coalition forces in a massive offensive, Operation Eastern Storm, aimed at rooting out one of the last insurgent strongholds in the region.

As the southwestern regional command of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force undertakes Operation Eastern Storm, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) has provided invaluable support in the coalition’s efforts to secure Afghanistan’s Route 611 and ensure peace and economic development in the region.

“Our big support for Eastern Storm was getting [1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and 2nd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment] into position,” said Lt. Col. Robert B. Finneran, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward)’s future operations officer and a native of Cape Carteret, N.C. “The threat level going into this was unknown.”

But coalition forces have been met with little confrontation, Finneran said.

“I think the fact that we were able to get in with relatively little resistance and establish patrol bases is only going to lead to positive relations with the local populace,” Finneran said.

After the initial insertion of the Afghan commandos and Marine Corps ground troops, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward)’s role has entailed providing resupplies and close-air support missions.
Finneran said much of the wing’s operations in support for Eastern Storm now comes from AV-8B Harrier attack jets, and UH-1Y Huey and AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters watching overhead.

“We’ve been able to fly and support in any way [the ground combat element has] asked up to this point,” Finneran said. “The Wing’s flexibility to meet the challenges of the ground combat element has been key. We had a very well-synchronized aviation plan.”

Capt. Joseph Fry, an AH-1W Super Cobra pilot with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267, recently flew one such mission.
Fry, a native of Jacksonville, Ill., said that over the summer he had flown a few missions into the area on which Operation Eastern Storm is focused, and witnessed a relatively heavy amount of combat, but “the ground presence wasn’t really there yet.”

“Almost overnight, the valley turned into a string of Marine-controlled outposts,” said Fry, adding that his recent mission was completely uneventful.

DVIDS

A Giant Of Marine Aviation

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C.

The new headquarters building stands as a permanent reminder to all Marines of the example set by the Marine Aviator, Gen. Christian F. Schilt, for whom the building is now named. He was a pioneer in Marine Aviation who helped lay the foundation for modern Marine aviation through sheer flying skill and intimate knowledge of aircraft capabilities.

“General Davis, the commanding general of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, and I got together and decided to nominate Gen. Schilt for this building,” said Col. Philip J. Zimmerman, commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.

Zimmerman also mentioned Brie Lehew, Cherry Point historian, was instrumental in the decision to name the building after Schilt.

“Not only because of his tremendous contributions to Marine Aviation, but also because of his development of aviation in support of ground forces. Those same strategies and concepts are being used today in Afghanistan by II Marine Expeditionary Force and 2nd MAW.”

Schilt enlisted in the Marine Corps during World War I and was assigned to the 1st Marine Aeronautical Company at Ponta Delgada, Azores. The company patrolled the seas for German U-Boats and was the first American aviation unit to serve overseas. The young Schilt, impressed by the aircraft, entered flight training when he returned to the United States and earned his wings in 1919.

According to Lehew, between the World Wars, the Banana Wars were raging and Schilt was sent to provide air support for Marines fighting in Caribbean and Central American countries. Here, he helped develop dive bombing techniques, performed the first ever casualty evacuation and was awarded the Medal of Honor.

According to his citation, his action took almost superhuman skill to accomplish.

Marines were fighting rebels in the Nicaraguan town of Quilali and were taking casualties. Schilt flew in an O2U-1 Corsair biplane, landed on a rough street while the town was burning down and with enemy fire directed at his fragile aircraft. Once in, he unloaded needed supplies and replacements while wounded were loaded aboard the aircraft. Schilt repeated this feat ten times, evacuating 18 Marines, delivering 1,400 pounds of supplies and dropping off a new officer to take charge of the battle. At least three of the 18 Marines would have died not for Schilt.

With this feat and in flight competitions, Schilt proved himself an incredible pilot. He was named Chief Test Pilot at the Naval Aircraft Factory, Philadelphia, Pa. He helped develop the aircraft Naval and Marine Aviation would use for World War II. He would fly any aircraft, given the chance. According to official documents, Schilt flew at least 218 aircraft and helicopters throughout his 40-year career.

During World War II, he held several important positions. First, he was assigned to the American Embassy in England, observing the British Royal Air Force in battle. Afterward, he was assigned to 1st Marine Aircraft Wing and sent to Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands. His next home front tour was as the second commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. He oversaw the massive expansion of the then new air station which provided training for Marine pilots. Today, 81 buildings constructed during his tenure are still standing.

His tour at Cherry Point continued when he was promoted to brigadier general and served as chief of staff and commanding general of 9th MAW, a World War II unit that trained pilots for combat. At the time, 9th MAW had 20,000 or more Marines aboard Cherry Point and outlying fields. In February of 1945, he returned to the Pacific and took command of 2nd MAW in October, which was stationed on Okinawa at the time.

Schilt returned stateside after commanding 2nd MAW but was back at the front with 1st MAW when the Korean War broke out in 1951. There, he won the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal for providing United Nations forces with “outstanding tactical air support.” Schilt was credited with integrating 1st MAW into the “Far East Air Forces interdiction program by implementing highly efficient fighter bomber, night intruder and night interdiction operations against enemy support missions,” in addition to other important functions. To celebrate the Marine Corps birthday that year, he led an 85 aircraft strike against the North Koreans.

After fighting in Korea, Schilt became the director of aviation for the Marine Corps and retired from that position as a four star general in 1957.

“It is often said that we stand on the shoulders of giants,” said Kit Hart, the director of combat camera. “His was a career of firsts that established him as a legendary pilot in his own day and who, over the course of that career, did as much or more for Marine Aviation than anyone. Enlisting as a private and advancing to the rank of general, he was a true pioneer, instrumental in the development of the close air support tactics that are still the mission of Marine Corps Aviation today.”

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