Photo Information

An AV-8B Harrier vertically lands onto the HMS Ark Royal, the British Royal Navy's flagship aircraft carrier, May 19, 2010, as part of Capella Strike, a multinational training evolution with British counterparts.::r::::n::"The exercise was an opportunity for both nations to display their capabilities and find ways to integrate them," said Capt. Christopher E. Brandt, Marine Attack Squadron 223 administration officer.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Tyler J. Bolken

Marine aviation makes big impact in 2010

6 Jan 2011 | Lance Cpl. Tyler J. Bolken

The Corps’ largest aircraft group, Marine Aircraft Group 14, casts a shadow of accomplishments for 2010.

Portions of MAG-14’s 10 squadrons, made up of nearly 90 aircraft and more than 3,400 Marines, left the air station for training about every other week throughout 2010, explained Lance Cpl. Jordan P. Freking, who helps plan the MAG’s deployments as a Marine Air-Ground Task Force planning specialist.

MAG-14 deployed several of its squadrons to Afghanistan in 2010 and elsewhere around the world, such as when Marines of Marine Attack Squadrons 223 and 542 conducted flight training aboard the HMS Ark Royal, while at sea in the Atlantic Ocean May 15-28.

The British Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier hosted the Harrier squadrons as part of Capella Strike, a two-week multinational training exercise with British counterparts.

“Exercise Capella Strike was an exciting opportunity to integrate American air power with British sea power,” said Capt. Nicholas R. Wineman back in May. Wineman, a pilot with VMA-223, added, “It was a pleasure to integrate with our British friends.”

In addition to the MAG’s Harrier squadrons, it has four Marine tactical electronic warfare squadrons, which boast the EA-6B Prowler, a high demand aircraft in Afghanistan.

“They were on a constant deployment cycle and always taking each other’s spots,” Freking said of the VMAQ squadrons. “Or they were training to deploy.”

From July 15-Aug. 2, more than 100 Marines from VMAQ-3 went to Nellis Air Force Base in the arid Nevada desert to conduct Red Flag 10-4, a two-week, multinational advanced aerial combat training exercise, where they trained with service members from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Singapore and the U.S. Air Force.

“Red Flag was a critical team-building exercise for us as well as an opportunity to practice integration with joint aircraft and joint aviation assets,” said Lt. Col. Kirk D. Nothelfer, VMAQ-3’s former commanding officer. “It was a great experience for our Marines.”

VMAQ-3 later deployed to Afghanistan in October, upon the return of VMAQ-2.

Col. Russell A. C. Sanborn, MAG-14’s former commanding officer, oversaw most of the group’s travels and accomplishments in 2010. He said the most rewarding part was seeing his Marines succeed.

“During deployments to two wars, they continually hit it out of the park,” said Sanborn, who is now the assistant wing commander for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward).

Sanborn relinquished command of MAG-14 to Col. Andrew G. Shorter who is excited about the outlook for 2011.

“We’ve set the highest standards since World War II,” said Shorter, “and the Marines of MAG-14 possess the team-oriented, winning spirit to continue to endeavor greater heights.”

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point