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Marines from VMA-223 circle up around each other to address last minute questions and concerns they have before they go to the armory to draw weapons Sunday night. "I'm excited and a little nervous because this is my first time deploying, but I'm sure that once I get out there I'll be fine," said Lance Cpl. Javier Fernandez a power plants mechanic with MAG-14. The squadron falls under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 14 and 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Andrea Cleopatra Dickerson

Squadron to put training to the test in Afghanistan

10 Nov 2011 | Lance Cpl. Andrea C. Dickerson

More than 200 Marines from Marine Attack Squadron 223 left for Kandahar, Afghanistan early Monday morning, in support of combat operations. “Our primary mission is to support Marine Expeditionary Units that are on the ground,” said VMA-223 Sgt. Maj. Steven P. Brunner. “Ultimately we want to provide combat air support for them.” The squadron has spent the last year preparing for the deployment, said Brunner. “We have been through multiple inspections and three deployment-for-training exercises. We have gone to Enhanced Mojave Viper twice, where we supported the infantry units on the ground there at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center 29 Palms.” The entire squadron geared up and put their max effort into the training, said Brunner. He and the commanding officer even stayed in the barracks along with the squadron while the troops trained at EMV. They felt that it was very important for the squadron to be there with the infantrymen at MCAGCC 29 Palms and not only support them, but also share accommodations with them, he said. “We wanted to experience everything that the infantrymen have to go through. We felt that it was important for the grunts to see the support that they have from the squadron.” Brunner said that he is hoping for a successful deployment. “Anytime that we are given a mission, we should be able to successfully meet timelines. If we get infantrymen on the ground that need immediate air support, we should be able to fulfill that. The only way that we are going to be able to do that is by making sure aircraft are up at all times and ready to fly.” Many of the Marines going are deploying for the first time, said Brunner. “Before we went on leave, I asked for a show of hands to see how many Marines were going on their first deployment, and I was surprised to see the amount of hands that went up,” he said. “This deployment is a culmination of all our training and all of the Marines have risen to the occasion. We could not be any more proud of them,” said Brunner. “The Marines are motivated, excited, and ready to go. We can’t wait to get over there and support the infantrymen.”
Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point