CAMP WILSON MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINEPALMS, CALIF. -- Maj. James Hunt, the squadron’s executive officer, stands behind the teamwork of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 as he practices supporting ground units through air support and ensures the welfare of Marines.
This is Hunt’s first time as an executive officer as he continues his career as a F/A-18 Hornet pilot.
Hunt decided at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., to become a Marine officer and pursue a career as a pilot in 1995.
“I remember reading a book in high school called ‘Into the mouth of the cat’, which is where I learned about Lance Sijan, an Air Force fighter pilot who was captured in Vietnam and was awarded the Medal of Honor,” said Hunt, a native of Mooresville, N.C., regarding his inspiration to become a pilot.
Hunt was a weapons systems operator in F/A-18Ds, a two seated fighter jet, from 2000 to 2009, before becoming a pilot.
The Marine Corps deployed Hunt to many different places such as Kuwait in 2003, Afghanistan in 2004 and to Japan in 2001 and 2010.
“The Corps is always able to send me where our flexible air support is needed to get the mission accomplished,” said Hunt.
“Now that we are supporting Mojave Viper, the squadron is able to focus on supporting the ground combat element, which is our main purpose in Marine Corps aviation.”
This month, the "Checkerboard" pilots are training to drop ordnance near 3rd Marine division and 1st Light Armor Reconnaissance, who are expected to deploy to Afghanistan within the next couple months.
“While flying, there are various amounts of emotions a pilot experiences at the same time such as stress, excitement and nervousness,” Hunt said.
Hunt’s career continues to foster as he takes a step away from aircraft and helps with the development of Marines.
“He is guided by a set of morals, which keeps his focus on mission accomplishment, troop welfare and the families of 312,” said Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sanchez, the "Checkerboard’s" sergeant major and a native of San Antonio.
Off the flightline, Hunt can be behind a computer making sure the "Checkerboard’s" issues are addressed and Marines are being taken care of.
“Bottom line, he does everything in his power to run the squadron and allows me to command,” said Lt. Col. Frank Latt, the commanding officer of VMFA-312.
With teamwork and dedication within the squadron, Hunt continues to care for Marines and ensures the squadron is able to accomplish any task at hand.
“Sometimes you need the executive officer to be the ‘hammer’ in the squadron,” said Latt, a native of Orlando, Fla., “Even though Maj. Hunt can become the hammer, he is generally the nicest guy in the squadron.”