MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Maj. Gen. George J. Trautman, 1st Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) commanding general, extended his personal congratulations to the Marines and sailors of Marine Attack Squadron 214 detachment for their outstanding performance and professionalism while forward deployed to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.
The detachment of 74 VMA-214 Marines, six AV-8B Harriers and 22 MALS-13 Marines returned here to the station from the seven-month deployment July 15.
VMA-214 went in support of the 31st MEU (SOC) as the fixed wing element of the Aviation Combat Element, said Capt. Michael R. Cassidy, VMA-214 operations supervisor.
“These Marines did an outstanding job,” said Lt. Col. Sean C. Blochberger, VMA-214 commanding officer. “We went a lot of places and flew a lot of hours.”
Along with supporting the 31st MEU (SOC), VMA-214 flew in Cobra Gold, participated in multi-national exercises in Guam, Thailand and Okinawa, Japan as well as maintained a presence in Iwakuni, Japan, said Blochberger. The Marines also participated in humanitarian efforts in Indonesia and the Philippine Islands.
“Doing what Marines do, they did a great job in everything that they supported,” Blochberger said. “We are very proud of them.”
VMA-214 made history by being the first Harrier squadron to deliver Joint Direct Attack Munition Guided Bomb Units in the Western Pacific in addition to over 98,000 pounds of ordnance dropped during the deployment, said Blochberger.
Cpl. Gregory G. Massery, VMA-214 aviation information system specialist, received an impact Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal for the outstanding job he did during the advanced party, said Cassidy.
The Blacksheep continuously set the standard for operational excellence and the Marines and sailors of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing appreciate the significant accomplishments and contribution from VMA-214, said Trautman in the congratulatory message.
“We are very happy to have these Marines back to join the squadron and that their spouses and loved ones have their Marines home again,” said Blochberger.
Throughout a challenging operational tempo, the Blacksheep flew 800 mishap-free flight hours and 558 sorties without an aircraft incident or serious ground injuries, said Blochberger. It’s always an accomplishment to return from a deployment without any problems.