MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT -- More than 50 Marines with Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 2 departed on a six-month deployment to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan Sunday as part of the unit deployment program in support of U.S. Pacific Command.
VMAQ-2 will replace more than 50 VMAQ-4 and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 14 Marines who returned from a similar deployment late Tuesday night.
“This is a new theater for us,” said Maj. Mark Fenwick, the operations officer for VMAQ-2. “It’s great that we can integrate with other partners and provide unit capabilities.”
VMAQ-2’s role will be to support theater contingency operations and conduct training with Marine Corps units and allied nations.
VMAQ-4 was the first Marine EA-6B Prowler squadron to deploy in support of the UDP since 2006.
“While we were out there, we were able to complete training and new qualifications for aircrew and maintainers,” said Capt. Brian Layman, the powerline officer in charge and Prowler pilot with VMAQ-4. “This training has only set us up for success and operational readiness.”
While deployed, members of VMAQ-4 participated in multiple large force exercises with partner nation services such as the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.
“It was a good opportunity to do training flights with these guys,” he said. “It was nice to be able to fly with Harriers, Hornets and Prowlers at the same time.”
Another good opportunity the squadron had was being able to experience Japanese culture. Marines were able to attend a baseball game and visit Hiroshima’s Peace Park, the site of the World War II atomic bomb dropping.
“A lot of it had to do with community relations,” said Staff Sgt. David Goudzwaard, the squadron’s staff non-commissioned officer in charge for VMAQ-4. “They got to talk to and interact with the Japanese people and their culture.”
Family members gathered here to await the arrival of the Marines late Tuesday night.
“It was hard being away from him,” said Alishia Zuniga, wife of Lance Cpl. Jonathan Zuniga, an aircraft intermediate level structures mechanic with MALS-14 and soon-to-be father who deployed with VMAQ-4. “I was afraid he wasn’t going to make it back in time for the baby to be born because it is due on Sunday.”
Alishia said to keep her mind off of things, she continued to work hard at her job and waited patiently for her husband.
“I feel excited and relieved to be back,” said Zuniga. “But I’m here, so the baby can come out now.”
The UDP force will grow to more than 150 VMAQ-2 and MALS-14 Marines throughout August.