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Checkerboards return to Fightertown

By Cpl. Benjamin McDonald | Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort | May 11, 2018


  Marines and Sailors of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 returned to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort May 6-9 after a seven-month deployment.

  The Checkerboards were deployed aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt supporting combat operations overseas and maritime security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operations.

   “I am very happy to be home,” said Maj. Chip Koskiniemi, the executive officer of VMFA-312. “The Marines and Sailors worked very hard while on the Roosevelt. They sacrificed a lot and helped ensure the mission was completed before returning home tonight. None of us have seen our loved ones in seven-months. However, some of us met new additions to our families for the first time as well.”

   VMFA-312 is one of two squadrons in the Marine Corps that are designated to deploy on aircraft carriers. Before deploying, the Checkerboards had to conduct pre-deployment work ups to be prepared for the high operational tempo they would face while aboard the Roosevelt.

   “We had to prepare for life on an aircraft carrier which means working longer shifts and being used to spending a lot of time on a ship,” said Sgt. Eric Clemons, an Avionics Supply Marine with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31. We started by spending a week on the Roosevelt a month before we actually deployed and extended the duration of our shifts to prepare ourselves for the longer shifts we would face while deployed. When we deployed, the transition to living on ship was very smooth thanks to these work ups. The Sailors helped us out with navigating around an aircraft carrier and with anything we would need to help accomplish the mission.”

  After touching down on the air station, the Marines and Sailors of VMFA-312 were greeted by friends, family, and the leadership of Marine Aircraft Group 31.

  “There are good deployments and then there are epic deployments,” said Col. Frank Latt, the commanding officer of MAG-31. “The Checkerboards went out on the Roosevelt and accomplished their mission over and over again. They worked hand-in-hand with the Navy and crushed the enemy. I couldn’t be more proud of the way this squadron represented themselves and MAG-31. Welcome home Marines.”