MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- Marines with Marine Attack Squadron 223 departed from Cherry Point for the USS Bataan Oct. 24 and Oct. 26 in preparation for an upcoming deployment with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.
VMA-223’s mission is to provide offensive air support, armed reconnaissance and air defense for Marine expeditionary forces.
“Our mission for the work up is to provide fixed wing tactical air assets for the MEU commander and augment the (Air Combat Element) with mission-essential tasks such as armed reconnaissance and air defense,” said Maj. James D. Banton, the Air Combat Element supply officer, with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced).
The squadron completed training in preparation for the MEU. The pilots trained for this work up by conducting flights in AV-8B Harrier simulators, completing approximately five hours of flight time each week.
Capt. Craig W. Freeman, a pilot with VMA-223, stated that pilots must be knowledgeable in regards to their aircraft, it’s functions and previous malfunctions.
Before departing on a flight, pilots must review their aircraft’s maintenance records for previous malfunctions to ensure they take proper preventative measures during final walkthroughs to prevent similar malfunctions.
During the deployment, the Marines supporting 22nd MEU will augment Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced).
“The training provides the VMA with an opportunity to exercise its mission-essential tasks while integrated with the VMM in support of the MEU commander’s mission,” said Banton.
While on the USS Bataan, the squadron intends to participate in work ups. The squadron will complete workups presented in different levels ranging from all complexity levels.
“The squadron will be completing day and night carrier qualifications, landing sign officer training and qualifications and training and readiness progress for junior pilots,” said Banton.
Although these Marines are venturing off in support of a new mission, showing more excitement than fear, said Freeman.
“The Marines are ready to prepare for tactical missions, wherever they are needed,” he said.
While Marines supporting the 22nd MEU are out training, the other VMA-223 Marines are preparing to support the 31st MEU according to Freeman.
The squadron deploys approximately every 18 months and is looking forward to another successful deployment.
“I have full confidence in the training and readiness of the Marines and know that they will perform exceptionally for both the workup and the MEU,” said Banton.