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An AV-8B Harrier with Marine Attack Squadron 223 takes on fuel from a KC-130J with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 during training May 22.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Andrea Cleopatra Dickerson

VMGR-252 trains, conducts refueling flight

30 May 2013 | Lance Cpl. Andrea Cleopatra Dickerson

Approximately 13 Marines and two KC-130J Hercules with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 conducted fixed wing aerial refueling missions with Marine Attack Squadron 223 and Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3 approximately 20 miles southeast of New River May 22.

“As wing assets, we work together frequently,” said Capt. James M. Brophy, a KC-130J pilot with VMGR-252. “It is a great opportunity because it allows us to facilitate training on both ends.”

Since the early 1900’s, aerial refueling has afforded American military forces the ability to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of various aircraft by allowing them to fly farther and for longer periods while providing much-needed support.

“Aerial refueling allows our comrades to get the gas they need from us and get right back to the fight,” Brophy said. “That saves time that they don’t have to waste.”

During the training, the squadron provided 18,000 pounds of fuel to two AV-8B Harriers and one EA-6B Prowler.

During the training, VMGR-252 also rehearsed multiple flight patterns. The flight patterns allow the two aircraft to use minimal airspace and maintain visual contact. The pilots also practiced drills where they maneuvered turns toward and away from each other.

“This is not something we get to do often,” said Brophy. “We like to do this every chance we get, so we can stay proficient at it.”

Not only did the pilots complete integral training, they earned vital qualifications that will benefit the squadron.

Brophy received a section lead qualification, which will allow him to lead two aircraft in tactical situations. This skill set will also allow him to instruct new pilots who need initial section qualifications.

Brophy said he looks forward to using his new skills and taking them forward on future deployments.

Fellow pilot, Capt. Andrew Meyers, earned a tactical refueling area commander qualification.

This qualification allows him to work with multiple aircraft in a refueling formation.

Overall, Brophy said the training benefitted the pilots because they were able to take away a lot from it.

“This gave me more experience with mutual support,” he said. “It allows our operations department to continue qualifying Marines we can push forward. With our operational tempo the way it is, having multiple detachments out at a time, having more leads and instructors only increases our readiness.”

The crew gained useful knowledge and experience as well, said Brophy. He said he worked with a great group of highly-qualified individuals who are dedicated to their jobs and mission accomplishment.

“It gets stressful at times, because we want everything to go perfect, which it never does,” Brophy said. “Even though we aren’t always perfect, it’s something we strive for. When you care about something, you want it to be successful.”

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point