Silver Eagles return to roost after month aboard Truman

14 May 2004 | Cpl. Jeff M. Nagan

More than 180 Marines and Sailors of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 returned home, May 3, after being deployed for a month aboard the USS Harry S. Truman.

The Silver Eagles were deployed as part of the training cycle for their six-month deployment slated in October.

“The primary focus was to integrate the ship and the air wing as a team and integrate flight operations with all the squadrons onboard,” said Lt. Col. J. D. Covington.

Throughout the deployment, the Silver Eagles catapulted off and landed on the nuclear aircraft carrier in the afternoon and at night. In addition, the squadron participated in several exercises, including live fire, where pilots had the chance to fire and drop ordnance.

“The squadron worked long days – 24-hour operations and seven days a week,” Covington said. “The motivation and dedication I see makes me proud to be part of the squadron.”

During the deployment, the Silver Eagles flew 391.8 flight hours and completed 252 sorties. The squadron also carrier qualified 20 pilots, and trained more than 40 Marines who have never been aboard a carrier before.

“It was a very successful deployment,” Covington said. “It was good training. We got the squadron up to speed with cyclic operations aboard a carrier.”

Marines from Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 and Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 joined the Silver Eagles during the deployment. The Stingers and Sweathogs provided support for VMFA-115 and the ship.

“They contribute to the function of the ship, which allows us to accomplish our mission,” Covington said “It’s a big team effort. We bring our unique Marine flavor to the ship.”

Throughout the deployment the ship’s crew had to contend with several drills, including fire, mass casualty and general quarters. Many of the drills occurred simultaneously, which tested the crew’s effectiveness and response time.

“The level of training ramped up real fast,” said Master Chief Clarence “Frenchy” Frye, command master chief, USS Harry S. Truman. “By the end we were pulling and moving and doing what we needed to do. The confidence was there.”

Although the Silver Eagles have returned home, the squadron will not be staying long. The squadron will be heading back to the Truman in June for a two-month workup. The deployment will integrate the whole strike group as a team, according to Frye.

“I am looking forward to this team coming together,” Frye said. “I’m sure it will be exciting to watch.”