Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point --
The first wave of Marines with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) departed Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in the early morning Feb. 9.
Over the next month more than 250 Marines will deploy with 2nd MAW (Fwd.) to relieve 3rd MAW (Fwd.) in support of operations in southern Afghanistan.
The forward element will conduct aviation operations in support of the Afghan southwestern regional command combined team with a primary mission of commanding and controlling all Marine Corps aviation assets.
“It is 2nd MAW (Fwd.)’s job to provide all aviation support assets,” said Col. Russell A. C. Sanborn, the assistant wing commander for 2nd MAW (Fwd.) “We are there to literally support that lance corporal on the ground. We will provide anything from air assault, kinetic fires and casualty evacuation to transporting food, supplies and water."
“This is what I joined for,” said Lance Cpl. Shiquesha T. Howard, an aviation operations specialist with 2nd MAW (Fwd.). “I’m anxious but I am ready, I’ve been training for months and I couldn’t be more prepared for this deployment.”
The Wing will provide all six functions of Marine Corps aviation, from assault support to aerial reconnaissance during the deployment.
“I feel confident about this deployment,” said Staff Sgt. Glenn Williams Jr., an aviation operations specialist with 2nd MAW (Fwd.) “I signed up to do this and I’m ready.”
The last time the Wing activated was for a 2009 deployment to Iraq, but this will be the first time that 2nd MAW (Fwd.) headquarters is deploying to Afghanistan.
The Marine Corps mission in the big picture of Afghanistan is to defeat the insurgency in partnership with our allies and a blossoming Afghan government, said Sanborn.
"We are going there to help them," said Col. Ben D. Hancock, the chief of staff for 2nd MAW (Fwd.) "We are also giving the Afghans the tools to help themselves."