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A Marine Attack Squadron 211 AV-8B Harrier takes off from the flight deck of the USS Essex in the Philippine Sea Aug. 10, 2009. The Wake Island Avengers of VMA-211 are scheduled to return to the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz., Aug. 24 and 25 after a seven-month deployment with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. Marine Attack Squadron 513 is slated to replace VMA-211 when the ship departs from Japan later this year.

Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Greg Johnson

Avengers headed home to Yuma from Japan, MEU

20 Aug 2009 | Cpl. Laura A. Mapes

The members of Marine Attack Squadron 211 along with the squadron’s eight AV-8B Harriers are scheduled to return Aug. 24-25, 2009, after a deployment to Japan and a tour with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

The Wake Island Avengers left Yuma in January 2009 to begin a deployment that would take them throughout Southeast Asia and Australia, as well as stops at the small Pacific island where they got their name.

Approximately 160 Marines and sailors from VMA-211, including personnel from Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13, took part in the deployment.

The squadron participated several multinational training exercises including Cobra Gold in Thailand, Balikatan in the Philippines and Talisman Saber 2009 in Australia.

“The most memorable part of this exercise would be a close-air support exercise on an island in Australia,” said Capt. Mike McKenney, VMA-211 maintenance officer. “We did not drop many bombs or fire ordnance in Balikatan or Cobra Gold, but were able to during Talisman Saber. It was a first for many of us. It was just part of a terrific experience working with the Navy and the Australians.”

“(Talisman Saber) was the largest exercise of the three,” said Capt. Mark Noble, VMA-211 pilot training officer.

Talisman Saber is a three-week, bilateral exercise, designed to improve the unit’s ability to work together with Australian forces.

Prior to leaving Japan, the Wake Island Avengers plan to learn about their heroic defense on the Pacific atoll during a class taught by Dr. Gregory J.W. Urwin, an expert on the Battle of Wake Island.

The squadron earned its name in December 1941, during a battle with the Japanese on Wake Island. The squadron was named the Avengers in remembrance of the squadron members lost during the battle.

The squadron’s AV-8B Harriers took off from the flight deck of the USS Essex for the last time Aug. 10. A detachment from Yuma’s Marine Attack Squadron 513, will replace them.

An advance party of 16 Marines returned to the air station July 28.

Editor's Note: Petty Officer 2nd Class Nardelito Gervacio contributed to this story.

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