MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- More than 200 Marines and sailors with Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 2 and Marine Air Logistics Squadron 14 returned to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Feb. 13 after participating in the squadron’s first Unit Deployment Program rotation to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, since 2002.
While deployed for six months, the squadron provided electronic warfare support to Pacific Command in the event of major conflict or contingency operations. EA-6B Prowlers play a critical role in the suppression of enemy air defenses during combat operations, said Maj. Geoffrey Z. Gosik, the executive officer of VMAQ-2.
“As always, the Marines of VMAQ-2 performed exceptionally well, displaying the ‘Can Do Easy’ spirit of the squadron while exceeding all expectations,” said Gosik, citing the squadron's motto. “The squadron overcame a heavy maintenance workload that enabled squadron aircrews to participate in valuable training opportunities that are not available at Cherry Point.”
A highlight of the deployment was integrating with PACOM after more than a decade of deploying in support of contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Gosik.
“Having the opportunity to work with our allies in the region, like the South Koreans, was a unique experience, which benefited the squadron and helped it gain valuable knowledge,” Gosik said. “Also, we participated in Exercise Forager Fury II at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam for six weeks which allowed the squadron to integrate with a Marine Aircraft Group in an expeditionary environment.”
Accomplishing their mission, the VMAQ-2 Marines and Sailors returned home to their loved ones after six months apart. For some, the return marks the end of a familiar journey, according to Maria Garcia, Marine wife of Sgt. Tino Garcia, who returned from his fifth deployment. After so long apart, the couple's children were eager to welcome home their father.
“The ones who are really excited for him to get back are the children,” said Maria. “Since it doesn’t really get to me until he steps off that bus, I’ll let them hug him first.”
When the buses rolled up to the hangar a little past midnight, Garcia spotted his children and went straight for a hug.
“I am so glad to be back because it’s been too long,” said Sgt. Garcia, a power line mechanic with the squadron. “I was worried because we almost got stuck on the way here so I was afraid I wasn’t going to be here in time for Valentine’s Day, but we made it and it’s great to be back.”