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Hawks soar above expectations

12 Feb 2010 | Lance Cpl. Kevin T. Ferguson Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

The mindset that no Marine needs to be thanked for completing a mission is embedded into their core values during recruit training.

However, every once in a while, Marines receive recognition for their stellar ability to continually shatter the predetermined expectations.

The Marine Corps Aviation Association selected Fightertown’s Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533, also known as the Hawks, for nomination for the Robert M. Hanson Fighter/Attack Squadron of the Year Award in January.

Squadrons nominated for the award are evaluated on mission readiness and overall performance over a calendar year.

“Hawks are held to high standards and, more importantly, are held accountable to meet those standards,” said Lt. Col. James Quinn, VMFA(AW)-533 commanding officer.

One reason the Hawks have been nominated lies in their ability to safely and successfully complete 3,520 hours of flight time from January to December 2009.

“From a safety perspective, we took everybody out and we got everybody back — no problems,” said Capt. Matt Humphries, a VMFA(AW)-533 weapons system officer.

Safely completed missions are a direct result of an entire unit working seamlessly.

“The squadron has done very well; all the right people are in the right places,” Quinn said. “It is a blessing to have such great, talented and committed Marines.”

The Hawks were able to exceed expectations and set the bar for attack squadrons across the Corps while overcoming a 10-month turnaround between deployments that gave them an almost completely new aircrew.

During a 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Commanding General Inspection the Hawks had 51 of 51 functional areas deemed mission capable.

“Having zero hits is a tribute to the hard work that the Hawks are doing,” Quinn said.

The Marines of VMFA
(AW)-533 do not expect to be praised for doing their job, but they surely appreciate being noticed for their accomplishments.

“Of course, I’m proud,” said Cpl. Igor Makarov. “You just do your job correctly and the next thing you know, you’re nominated.”

In addition to all the great things they have accomplished in the air, the Hawks stayed aggressive on the ground by focusing on physical training, shooting for high rifle qualifications and advancing in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program – the basics every Marine should strive to excel in.

“Hawks are mentally and physically tough. They’re the total Marine,” Quinn said.

The Hawks competed for nomination against all Marine fighter attack squadrons. The Robert M. Hanson Fighter/Attack Squadron of the Year Award winner is slated to receive the award at the 2010 MCAA Symposium & Reunion at the Omni Hotel, Fort Worth, TX, scheduled May 19-22.