MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. -- Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 headed to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Oct. 25, for three weeks of unit-level training to prepare for their upcoming Western Pacific Deployment.
Traveling to Miramar allows the squadron to train using various scenarios and tactics while employing live ordnance, something they can’t do here at Fightertown.
“Being in Miramar, we will be able to take advantage of the Yuma, (Ariz.) ranges,” said Capt. Patrick Castello, a Bengal pilot. “At the Yuma ranges, we can drop live ordnance rather than the practice (ordnance) we use here.”
Not only will this detachment provide different training for the aircrew, the trip also offers new experiences and working environments for the enlisted Marines of the squadron as well.
“This is good training for us all,” Castello said. “Not only for the pilots, but especially for the maintenance and ordnance Marines.”
The Yuma ranges allow ordnance technicians to load 500- and 1000-pound bombs, cluster bombs and rockets, according to Sgt. Aaron Martin, a Bengals aviation ordnance technician.
“On the East Coast we are only able to load small bombs, so getting to Miramar will be good,” Martin said. “We will get great training using actual rounds.”
The Bengals have been preparing for the three-week deployment for several weeks. Most Marines in the squadron have been working 12 hours or more a day for six days a week since Columbus Day, according to Lance Cpl. Juan Cardenas, a Bengals airframer.
“We have had to trouble shoot all the parts and components of each jet,” Cardenas said. “Yeah, it has been a little stressful over the past few weeks, but we must accomplish our mission. We know that if we deploy, we must do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
The ordnance Marines of the squadron have been busy preparing the Marines for their six-month deployment to Iwakuni, Japan, as part of the Unit Deployment Program.
“We’ve been loading dummy rounds heavily for the past two months,” Martin said. “We wanted to make sure that we were prepared for the real thing.”
The Bengal Marines worked extremely hard to ensure the squadron and their F/A-18 Hornets were prepared for the three week unit-level training detachment, according to Castello.
“The efforts of the Marines directly affect our combat readiness,” Castello said. “(Getting prepared) was a big job for all the Marines and I know it will be a successful training mission.”