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Thunderbolts return from Iwakuni

23 Jul 2004 | Lance Cpl. C. Alex Herron Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

The Marines and Sailors of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 came home from their Western Pacific Deployment in Iwakuni, Japan, July 14.

The Thunderbolts were deployed for six months to the Pacific rim and participated in exercises in various locations around the world, including Korea and Thailand. They took part in exercises Cope Tiger and Cobra Gold in Thailand and Foal Eagle in South Korea.

“We went on a few exciting exercises to different places,” said Cpl. Troy Crady, powerline, VMFA-251. “It was good to see new places and experience new cultures.”

While on deployment the Thunderbolts were attached to Marine Aircraft Group 12. The MAG was a big help in aiding the squadron throughout the different aspects of the deployment, according to Sgt. Maj. Michael Swanberg, squadron sergeant major, VMFA-251.

“The support was great from MAG-12,” Swanberg said. “The Marines of MAG-12 were great at work and during liberty.

We had a good time getting to know them. We were part of the family there, but it is nice to return to our MAG-31 family.”

The Thunderbolts were able to work with the host countries’ militaries during the different exercises, while visiting other countries.

“It was a great opportunity to work with the other militaries,” Swanberg said. “We were able to work with many different armed forces including the Royal Thai Air Force and the Royal Singapore Air Force.”

In addition to working with foreign militaries, the Marines and Sailors were able to participate in local community relation projects in the surrounding towns where they were serving.

“We were able to visit schoolhouses and help students learn English,” Swanberg said. “We went to a few orphanages to spend time with the children there.”

The Marines and Sailors were excited to be home and glad they could close another chapter of T-Bolt history, according to Crady.

“It was wonderful to see old friends and meet new ones throughout the deployment,” Crady said. “We were able to experience the different cultures while continuing the fine T-Bolt tradition of successful deployments.”