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T-Bolts deploy for Western Pacific

By Cpl. Micah B. Snead | | January 22, 2004

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After two consecutive combat tours, the Thunderbolts of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 returned to “normal” deployments last week as they rejoined the Unit Deployment Program.

The F/A-18 Hornet squadron departed Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort on Jan. 13 and 16 for MCAS Iwakuni, Japan for a scheduled six-month deployment. The T-Bolts  replaced the Fighting Bengals of Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224, who returned to the Air Station Sunday.

A UDP is a regularly scheduled deployment that rotates squadrons and units into and out of the Western Pacific region. MCAS Iwakuni hosts the units while they participate in training exercises and operations in the area.

The deployment marks the first time in three years that the more than 200 Thunderbolts have deployed to a non-combat area. The squadron was heavily involved in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom the last two summers, but the more relaxed nature of this deployment will not affect the squadron’s devotion to hard work, according to Lt. Col. Thomas “T.C.” Clark III, commanding officer, VMFA-251.

“The mission doesn’t affect our work ethic or motivation,” Clark said. “Anytime we deploy, we have a commitment to total professionalism. Our Marines have done a tremendous job preparing the squadron for this deployment.”

The squadron traveled to MCAS Miramar, Calif. in October as a warm-up for the UDP. The T-Bolts spent two weeks honing their flight, fight and maintenance skills.

“It was an air-to-ground deployment to work out all the bugs before the WESTPAC,” said Capt. Michael Brennan, pilot, VMFA-251. “We used the ranges out there to drop live ordnance and get in some good training hours.”

The T-Bolts have been working through holidays and weekends for the last several months to make sure the squadron is in top form for the deployment, according to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Timothy Woodring, ordnance officer, VMFA-251.

“Our Marines have really had to step up and put in a lot of overtime to get our squadron ready,” Woodring said. “Without the great work of our Marines, our jets would be going nowhere.”

The T-Bolts will be making pit stops all across the Pacific Rim during the deployment. Many of the Marines were looking forward to the mixture of travel, work and fun.

“You always get excited before a deployment, no matter what it is for,” said Sgt. Chris Bates, systems administration analyst, VMFA-251. “The older Marines who have been around are just as excited as the young guys. It’s going to be a lot of work, but a lot of fun too.”
skills.

“It was an air-to-ground deployment to work out all the bugs before the WESTPAC,” said Capt. Michael Brennan, pilot, VMFA-251. “We used the ranges out there to drop live ordnance and get in some good training hours.”

The T-Bolts have been working through holidays and weekends for the last several months to make sure the squadron is in top form for the deployment, according to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Timothy Woodring, ordnance officer, VMFA-251.

“Our Marines have really had to step up and put in a lot of overtime to get our squadron ready,” Woodring said. “Without the great work of our Marines, our jets would be going nowhere.”

The T-Bolts will be making pit stops all across the Pacific Rim during the deployment. Many of the Marines were looking forward to the mixture of travel, work and fun.

“You always get excited before a deployment, no matter what it is for,” said Sgt. Chris Bates, systems administration, VMFA 251.
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