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Lance Cpl. Kenneth Aoford, Marine Attack Squadron 513 airframer, safety wires bolts on an AV-8B Harrier in the squadron's hangar at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz., Aug. 10, 2009. Aoford is one of approximately 150 Marines scheduled to deploy Aug. 16 and 21, 2009, in support of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit based in Japan. "This is going to be my first deployment," said Aoford. "I'm pretty excited, this is going to be a very new experience." While in Japan the squadron is slated to participate in exercises Ryuku Warrior, Talisman Saber and Wolmi-Do Fury.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jakob Schulz

Yuma's Marines head to Japan: VMA-513, MALS-13 det headed to MEU

13 Aug 2009 | Lance Cpl. Jakob Schulz

Approximately 150 Marines and eight AV-8B Harriers from Marine Attack Squadron 513 and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 are scheduled to depart Aug. 16 and 21 for a six-month deployment to Japan.

While deployed, the squadron is scheduled to participate serve with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in exercises Ryuku Warrior, Talisman Saber and Wolmi-Do Fury, said Capt. Daniel Fletcher, VMA-513 embarkation and logistics officer.

Ryuku Warrior and Wolmi-Do Fury are joint exercises where VMA-513 will provide close air support and nontraditional intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance.

Talisman Saber is conducted twice a year in Australia between U.S. and Australian forces. The exercise focuses on operational warfighting in advanced scenarios that encompass ground, air and sea environments.

“It’s going to be great flying,” said Fletcher. “The types of missions and the terrain are going to be unique. Going from the desert of Yuma to the jungle is going to be an experience.”

The Harriers will fly to Japan with the help of a KC-10, which will refuel the Harriers in flight. A C-17 Globemaster will transport the squadron’s gear.

“This is going to be my second deployment, so I’m used to the working conditions,” said Cpl. James Kopetchny, VMA-513 powerline mechanic. “There’s a lot more responsibility, because we have less men.”

The squadron is no stranger to the 31st MEU, having deployed with them December 2007 to July 2008. During that deployment the squadron participated in exercises Balikatan in the Philippines and Cobra Gold in Thailand. Both exercises are designed to improve U.S. relations and provide unique training opportunities.

The remainder of VMA-513 is also scheduled to deploy, joining the 11th MEU to ship out of San Diego in September.

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