Welcome Home VMFA-122 Werewolves return

27 Mar 2009 | Cpl. Christopher Zahn

The Marines and sailors of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122, known as the Werewolves, along with a detachment of Stingers from Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31, returned to the Air Station Saturday from their deployment to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq.

During the seven-month deployment, the Werewolves supported Operation Iraqi Freedom by providing air support to U.S. and coalition forces on the ground.

“I am very excited,” said Sgt. Austin Baker, a radar systems technician with MALS-31. “It was a long seven months not being able to see my wife, and now, I’m with her. It’s the best feeling.”

This was the first combat deployment for the Werewolves since the Vietnam War, but due to an intensive training cycle prior to deployment, they were more than prepared.

“I think the training package prepared us tremendously for what we did over there,” said Gunnery Sgt. Deric Shuman, the ordnance staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge for the Werewolves. “The three detachments we did during the work-up had training that was dead-on, so that we could step off the plane ready to pick up where the other squadrons left off.”

The unit’s training package consisted of Mojave Viper in El Centro, Calif., where they supported 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, a squadron detachment to Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., as well as Desert Talon pre-deployment training in Yuma, Ariz.

“By the time we got over there and started executing, we had a pretty good idea of what we needed and how it would work,” said Lt. Col. Douglas Douds, the Werewolves commanding officer. “I would say that the pre-deployment training that we did to execute the mission prepared us entirely.”

The training, along with the dedication of the Marines, contributed to a successful deployment for the squadron.

“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Douds said. “Before we left, we said we wanted to accomplish 100 percent of our missions, we wanted to bring back all of our jets, all our Marines and sailors. We wanted to return them to informed families who were excited to have them back.”