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The combat engineers of Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 detonate extra ordnance in an old vehicle June 11 during an explosive ordnance training exercise aboard Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz. The training was part of the multiple exercises that comprise Desert Talon.

Photo by Pfc. Jason D, Mills

Desert Talon: Sweat Hogs prepare for Iraq in Arizona

16 Jun 2006 | Pfc. Jason D. Mills

With waves of heat visibly rising off of the ground the Sweat Hogs of Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 have a long three weeks ahead of them here during Desert Talon at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz. The Sweat Hogs are preparing to deploy to Iraq later this summer and are conducting training exercises as part of their pre-deployment training cycle. “Desert Talon is our last step before we go to Iraq,” said Maj. Jason Pratt, the operations officer for MWSS-273. Desert Talon, designed to mirror desert operations, is the aviation community’s pre-deployment certification evaluation exercise.“Desert Talon is important because it provides us with the ability to conduct live-fire training exercises for all-hands along with demolition training that we can’t get in Beaufort. It also allows us to refine the squadron’s operating procedures in a field environment,” Pratt said. Having just arrived in Yuma, many Marines are having trouble adjusting to the harsh desert climate. Yuma Proving Ground is located near the Arizona-California border, situated in the Southwest portion of the state. The proving ground is in the heart of the great Sonoran desert.“It is really hot out here so you have to stay hydrated, otherwise you could get hurt,” said Lance Cpl. Brian Baker, a refueler for MWSS-273. “I try and drink water constantly.” Desert Talon seems to be a necessary evil however. For many of the Sweat Hogs of MWSS-273 this will be their first deployment. “I’m looking forward to getting over to Iraq,” said Lance Cpl. Joshua Livingston, a tactical data network specialist for MWSS-273. “This is my second time at Desert Talon but it will be my first time to Iraq, so I’m pretty anxious to get over there.”With weeks of training ahead of them, most of the Marines of MWSS-273 are just trying to focus on getting their base camp set up. “Right now I’m just trying to focus on getting the camp set up before I start worrying about anything else,” Livingston said. One thing is certain: every Marine of MWSS-273 who will be going to Iraq is looking forward to getting back home and relaxing before their deployment later this year.