MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
Approximately 100 Marines and sailors, along with six AV-8B Harriers, returned home from a seven-month deployment aboard the USS Boxer July 30-31 at the flight line here.
The Marines and sailors were part of the Marine Attack Squadron 214 and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 detachment serving with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
While deployed, the 13th MEU conducted counter-piracy operations off the coast of Africa, near Somalia in the Gulf of Aden. VMA-214 employed its six Harriers in support of these operations.
“Most of our time was spent doing nontraditional intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance,” said Capt. Andrew Kano, VMA-214 pilot. “We would fly out and locate any suspicious vessels and send back visual reconnaissance to identify whether they might be pirate vessels.”
The squadron also played a role in the rescue of Richard Phillips, a civilian cargo ship captain who was taken hostage by Somali pirates.
“Several of our pilots flew reconnaissance missions in support of that effort,” said Kano. “In the end, it was the Boxer that retrieved Phillips.”
The squadron pilots also used down time to sharpen their skills.
On its way to and from the Middle East VMA-214 trained for air-to-air combat among its own Harriers and with F-16s from the 18th Aggressor Squadron from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.
Many of the Marines and sailors are glad to be back in Yuma after seven months abroad.
“Being back feels amazing,” said Lance Cpl. Adam Horn, VMA-214 airframer. “I’m back with my wife and off a boat with more than 3,000 smelly guys on it. This is easily the best part of it all.”