MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
Approximately 80 Marines and sailors from Marine Attack Squadron 311 are scheduled to return July 8 from a seven-month deployment to Japan, where they supported the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
While overseas, the squadron participated in several training events including exercises Foal Eagle, Cobra Gold and Balikatan.
The exercises took place throughout Southeast Asia, where the Tomcats focused on providing intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and close air support to the ground operations, said 1st Lt. Chris Wood, VMA-311 intelligence officer.
The Marines learned to work with other countries in many ways, whether it was training with the Royal Thai Armed Forces in Cobra Gold executing amphibious and heliborne raids or aiding the Philippine people by supporting the humanitarian efforts of Balikatan.
Along with the honor of being able to visit Iwo Jima, where the Marines toured the old battlegrounds, the squadron designated a new flagship aircraft, which boasts a new paint job and tail design.
The last month of their deployment was spent at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, for air-to-air combat training with Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 94.
“Kadena was a great opportunity for us to refine our expeditionary mindset,” said Wood “Also, the squadron got some great experience as we learned how to work hand-in-hand with both the Navy and the Air Force on a daily basis.”
Before leaving Okinawa, the Tomcats finished the seven-month deployment with more Marine Corps training, such as visiting the gas chamber and taking their physical fitness tests before returning home.
The remainder of Marines in Japan including the Harriers are scheduled for return July 11-12.
The rest of VMA-311 is currently on the USS Peleliu with the 15th MEU performing counter piracy and humanitarian operations.