MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- Over the course of the past few weeks, several Marine Aircraft Group 14 and Marine Air Control Group 28 units stationed aboard Cherry Point, have been participating in and supporting the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course held at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.
WTI is a bi-annual training evolution that integrates pilots, weapons systems operators, ground combat and combat service support units from throughout the Marine Corps to enhance communication and build relationships throughout the Marine Air-Ground Task Force.
In addition to those directly involved in training, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing units are on hand to provide other essential services.
Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 14 provided approximately 20 Marines to fill maintenance, ordnance and supply roles.
“So far, we have been doing a great job of accomplishing our mission, which is to support this course and our fellow 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing squadrons as much as possible,” said Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Candido, the MALS-14 ordnance chief.
Locally, the squadron’s ordnance Marines also equipped aircraft belonging to Marine Attack Squadron 542 and VMA- 223 with approximately 20 weapons systems and ammunition handling systems.
“Our Marines have been doing a great job supporting WTI even though some aren’t physically there,” said Candido. “Their hard work has been very evident. We have never pushed out this many weapons systems. In the past we have never sent out more than five or six weapons per squadron.”
Several Marine Air Control Group 28 units, including Marine Air Control Squadron 2, Marine Tactical Air Command Squadron 28 and Marine Wing Communication Squadron 28 are also providing support to the course.
While those 2nd MAW assets provide behind-the-scenes support, Marine tactical electronic warfare squadrons have aircrew members going through the course and more than 140 pairs of boots on the ground.
“Our students are doing very well and progressing according to their training schedule,” said Lt. Col. Joshua S. K. Gordon, the VMAQ-1 commanding officer. “Not only are the students doing well, our mechanics are doing a great job supporting the class and keeping our planes up and running.”
While squadrons like VMAQ-1 have been able to send larger quantities of Marines, other squadrons are supporting on a smaller scale.
Two ordnance Marines and a staff noncommissioned officer from VMA-542 are on hand to support a pilot from the squadron who is currently attending the course.
“This is a great opportunity for the Marines we have over there,” said Capt. Jeremy K. Pack, a Harrier pilot with VMA-542. “Our Marines are learning a lot of useful knowledge while being exposed to conditions that they are not accustomed to. Now they have had the chance to train in different types of atmospheres.”
2nd MAW troops are expected to return to the air station shortly after the course concludes April 28.