MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC -- Approximately 30 Marines from Marine Air Control Squadron 2, Detachment A here are preparing for a seven-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom later this month.
The Marines, who have been training for several months, will support vital communications between aircraft operating from several forward operating bases in the Al Anbar Province.
“We’ve trained daily and taken the required classes,” said Master Sgt. Dennis Cote, the maintenance chief for MACS-2. “The best training though, is sharing our past experiences from previous deployments. Things you can’t learn in a class.”
The detachment is made up of Marines with diverse levels of experience: many Marines have just returned from Iraq in February and volunteered to go back, while a few Marines are fresh from their military occupational specialty school.
“(Iraq) is the best place to learn,” said Lance Cpl. Christopher Turner, a communications technician with MACS-2 who is preparing for his second deployment. “You work 12-hour shifts (applying the skills you know.) It is the best experience you can get.”
Another MACS-2 Marine agreed.
“Getting out there is how to learn the job,” said Cpl. Max Cebulla, a navigational aids technician. “There are always a few bumps in the road, but that’s how you get the training you need. I know we will be fine.”
The MACS-2 Marines will be attached to Marine Air Control Group 38 and maintain radars and communication systems at the airfields in Al Taqaddum, Fallujah and Ramadi, according to Cote. They ensure open communications between aircraft in the air and Marines on the ground, all the time controlling the airspace and ensuring the safety of the pilots.
“There’s always plenty of work to do,” Turner said with a smile. “With the sand storms, the equipment always needs a few tune-ups.”
Because the Marines of MACS-2 have highly specialized skills needed to operate an expeditionary airfield, the detachment almost constantly deploys. Over the past six years the detachment has been deployed to Kuwait, Bahrain, Uzbekistan, Jordan, Djibouti and Kyrgyzstan, just to name a few.
Although most of the Marines just returned from the desert a few months ago, the attitude at the detachment is positive, according to Cote.
“Everyone has a job to do,” Cote said. “Everyone volunteered to go and everyone seems pretty excited… especially the new guys. This is going to be a good deployment for us.”