MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
Approximately 110 Yuma Marines left the air station recently for a seven-month deployment with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Members of Marine Attack Squadron 311 and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 boarded two KC-130 Hercules aircraft to fly to San Diego May 19, 2010, where they loaded onto the USS Peleliu for their tour at sea.
Six AV-8B Harriers followed the Marines, flying out to the Peleliu May 23, 2010.
The 15th MEU will likely perform counter-piracy operations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and may provide humanitarian aid to other nations.
In support of this mission, the squadron pilots may be tasked with flying long-range surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
While many of the more senior Marines are no strangers to MEU deployments, this experience was a first for some of the junior Marines.
“I feel nervous, but excited,” said Lance Cpl. Mark Ridoloso, VMA-311 powerline mechanic, who has never deployed. “The ship is uncomfortable and miserable, but I’m excited to actually go out and do something. I am sad, though, that I won’t be here to witness my daughter’s birth. I was here for my first two kids being born and I hate that I have to miss the third.”
“It’s really sad and a little bit scary, but we can do it,” said Cassandra, Ridoloso’s wife. “There’s nothing we can do but get through it.”
The rest of VMA-311 is currently deployed to Japan with the 31st MEU, which left in January.
Before that, the squadron returned from separate six-month deployments to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, in October 2008 and aboard the Peleliu in November 2008.
“You’re all ready and I’m certain you’ll all do excellently. Good luck and we’ll see all of you in seven months,” said Col. Anton Nerad, Marine Aircraft Group 13 commanding officer, to the outbound Marines before they loaded onto a KC-130.