MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Marines from Marine Attack Squadron 223 returned to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Aug. 10-11, after serving a seven-month deployment in support of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
For the VMA-223 Marines, Jan. 17 had been the last time they saw family and friends at Cherry Point before deploying aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau.
Over the course of the deployment, the Marines spent nearly 200 days at sea and supported operations in Haiti, the Middle East and the Mediterranean.
Earthquake-stricken Haiti was top priority for the 24th MEU at the onset of the deployment, and the Marines and Sailors of the MEU were among the first U.S. service members to provide humanitarian relief, explained Lt. Col. Michael J. Perez, the deployment officer in charge of VMA-223.
The 24th MEU then moved to its main area of operation in the Horn of Africa region, where it spent the majority of the deployment, explained Capt. Jason Rubin, a Harrier pilot with VMA-223.
Though ship life and long hours were the norm for the deployment, Marines said they appreciated the experience.
“It was long and painful but rewarding at the same time,” said Rubin. “We did a lot of great stuff out there.”
The Marines did really important work; they handled it very well and stayed motivated the whole time, explained Perez.
VMA-223 provided six of its Harriers to the MEU deployment, added to the 10 MV-22B Ospreys from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162 (Reinforced), based out of MCAS New River.
“It was a really busy flight deck,” said Cpl. Franciso Rodriguez, an airframe maintenance technician with VMA-223.
The USS Nassau started its way back to the states in mid-July, and the Marines got a chance to spend time in Rome.
For friends and family back here, Aug. 10–11 was the highlight of the deployment when they could embrace their Marines again after seven months apart.
“Every moment of this is wonderful,” said Jessica Felter, wife of Capt. Trevor J. Felter, a Harrier pilot with VMA-223. “It was worth the wait!”