Sweathogs prepare for six-month Iraq deployment

13 Feb 2004 | Cpl. Kat Johnson

An order from President Bush to aid in the fight against global terrorism is a reason the Marines of Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 are finding themselves at the head of another deployment to the Middle East.

This month, over 650 Marines from MWSS-273, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, will be packing and heading out for six months to support combat operations and air strikes over Iraq.

This will be the first time in over a year the entire squadron has deployed from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in support of one mission, according to Master Sergeant Roddy J. Smith, motor transport chief, MWSS-273.

While in Iraq, the support squadron will be providing manpower for the forward refueling area that enables aircraft and vehicles to perform operations at a closer range in the direction of enemy targets.

The Sweathogs are not strangers to the deploying lifestyle, according to Smith.

Just over 25 days ago, about 50 Marines from  ’273 returned from Djibouti, Africa, as part of the Presidents’ Joint Task Force. While there, they not only performed area patrols but also served as a security rifle platoon training for warfare in desert environments.

“The Marines are very proud of what they did there,” Smith said. “It’s not everyday a unit gets to deploy to Africa.”

The remaining Marines of 273, while not deployed to Djibouti, didn’t loose out on their hot weather training either. While the 55 Marines of the JTF were training in Africa, the Marines here in Beaufort kept busy with desert deployments also.

In September, more than fifty Marines from MWSS-273 deployed to Yuma, Ariz., in support of Operation Desert Talon. While there, they received more than two weeks of advanced hot weather training, which was dedicated to teaching tactics necessary for survival while in the Middle East.

“All of these deployments were good training for these Marines,” Smith said.

When the Marines of ’273 deploy today, they will be equipped with machinery and weapons necessary to maintain one of the largest airfields in the Middle East.

“I know these Marines are ready,” Smith said. “Unfortunately I won’t be able to go with them, but I know they will do a great job.”