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2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Sgt. Maj. Susan M. Bellis speaks with Cpl. Casey West on the runway at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, April 22. Bellis visited Marine aviation squadrons deployed to Afghanistan in order to assess the needs of Marines and observe daily operations. West, a Richmond, Va., native, is an airframes mechanic with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 deployed out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C.

Photo by Cpl. Rashaun X. James

Commanding general, sergeant major make battlefield visit

25 Apr 2011 | Cpl. Rashaun X. James PEO Land Systems

Maj. Gen Jon M. Davis, the commanding general of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, and Sgt. Maj. Susan M. Bellis, the wing’s sergeant major, toured Camp Leatherneck and Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, to greet Marines and Sailors from the aviation squadrons supporting Regional Command Southwest, and observe their daily operations, April 21-23.

The two leaders traveled to Afghanistan from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., to meet Marines, sailors and coalition troops fighting for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) in Helmand and Nimroz provinces.

“I plan to see and meet as many Marines, sailors and Royal Air Force partners as I can while I’m out here,” said Davis. “I want to see them, talk to them, shake their hands and thank them for what they’re doing. I am immensely impressed with each and every one of them. They’re professional and focused. They know exactly why they’re there, what they’re here to do, and are doing it exceptionally well.”

During their visit, Davis and Bellis asked each Marine if they had everything they needed and if there was anything the wing could provide them that they did not have.

 “They were keen on providing everything we need to continue our success,” said Brig. Gen Glenn M. Walters the commanding general of 2nd MAW (Fwd.).

The visit also enabled Davis to actively survey the operations of the wing’s forward element by participating in a joint tactical air mission with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169 and a support mission with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264.

“Nothing can beat having eyes on and talking to the Marines and doing things with them to figure out best what we need to do,” Davis said. “We need to prepare the next group of 2nd MAW (Fwd.) Marines who will come here. My job is to source the next rotation and make sure they’re trained and equipped to accomplish the mission.”

Davis later reflected on his participation in the operations, saying the feelings he felt on previous deployments flying missions as an AV-8B Harrier pilot had not changed.

“It was motivating to watch the Marines on foot patrols out there in some of the toughest battle spaces in the world getting the job done,” Davis said. “Marine aviators exist for one reason, to support the Marines on the ground. I think these Marines could hear us above them, and they knew we were up there and had them covered in the air.”

Walters offered a perspective on why he thought the visit was important, not only to the Marines and sailors of 2nd MAW (Fwd.), but also to 2nd MAW forces back in the U.S.

“It was wonderful having them come here,” Walters said. “They’re the ones who formed our unit to deploy here. It’s good for people in the rear to know what kind of challenges we deal with, the environment we work in and what pace we have to work at to provide aviation support to Regional Command Southwest.”

Davis said he will leave Afghanistan with a positive outlook for the future of 2nd MAW (Fwd.), and the continued success of its operations in southwestern Afghanistan.

“The real test of how we do as a wing is what Maj. Gen. Toolan thinks about the support from his air combat element,” Davis said of Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan Jr., the commanding general of Regional Command Southwest. “My belief is that Brig. Gen. Walters and 2nd MAW (Fwd.) are knocking it out of the park, and when I talk to him tonight, Maj. Gen. Toolan is going to tell me that he’s very pleased with what I tell him.”

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