MCAS Cherry Point News


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Capt. Michael Gagnon takes notes on the debriefing at Patrol Base Alcatraz, Afghanistan, on the conclusion of a successful mission, Oct. 21. Gagnon, a native of Oxford, Mass., commands a team of roughly 20 men dubbed “Task Force Nomad.” Over the next several weeks, the task force, a subset of Marine Wing Support Squadron 371, will construct or improve helicopter landing zones along the Helmand River valley in southwestern Afghanistan.

Photo by Cpl. Brian Adam Jones

On third Afghan tour, Marine brings experience, leadership to Marine wing support mission

2 Nov 2011 | Cpl. Brian Adam Jones

Capt. Michael Gagnon, a logistics officer with Marine Wing Support Squadron 371, is on his third deployment to Afghanistan in two years.

The 29-year-old native of Oxford, Mass., said he has learned a lot from Afghanistansince 2009.

“This is a thinking man’s war,” Gagnon said.

Currently Gagnon commands a roughly 20-man team dubbed “Task Force Nomad.”

Operating out of Patrol Base Alcatraz, situated on the rim of the Helmand River Valley, the task force will spend the next several weeks constructing and repairing helicopter landing zones for various patrol bases in the valley.

“What we’re doing allows troops to get resupply and casualty evacuation,” Gagnon said.

Gagnon said “knowing how to employ personnel and equipment” is critical to the success of his current mission, and he’s learned a few tricks from the region over the years.

“There are only three things I need – weapons, equipment and my personnel,” Gagnon said.

“I was here in 2009 when we were putting the first battalions in country,” Gagnon said. “I’ve seen footholds spread from warzones to active and bustling peaceful economies with wheat distribution centers. The local police, the Afghan National Army get better every day. Civil Affairs has rebuilt roads and expanded economies. It’s remarkable how much things have developed in a short amount of time.”

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