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Deployment training began for Marine Fighter Attack squadron 312 May 11. The squadron will be evaluated on combat readiness during an exercise which will last approximately one month.

Photo by Lance Cpl. John Wilkes

VMFA-312 prepares for deployment

18 May 2012 | Cpl. Justin M. Boling

 Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 deployed May 11 to Naval Air Sta­tion Oceana, Va., where they will train with Carri­er Air Wing 3 for approxi­mately one month.

 The Navy carrier air wing attached to the USS Harr y S. Truman, will be training to provide close air support for maritime security operations.

“This is the beginning of our workup to pre­pare for our deployment in 2013,” said Sgt. Major Jimmy S. Sanchez, the squadron’s sergeant ma­jor. “It is a good opportu­nity for our pilots to work with their counterparts and for all of us to learn more about the Navy.”

 The Marines of the squadron will serve un­der a naval command while deployed aboard the aircraft carrier. This involves being able to adjust to how the sailors complete the mission of maritime aviation.

 “Integrating with the Navy is going to be in­teresting,” said Captain Derek Heinz, pilot with VMFA-312. “This is a great chance for us to showcase our hard work and professionalism.”

During the month the squadron’s pilots will sharpen their skills with training not available here on Fightertown.

 The squadron will take part in the Strike Fight­er Advanced Readiness Program, which consists of academic training as well as flight training, said Heinz. The purpose of SFARP is to hone pi­lot’s skills in planning and executing various strike fighter missions they may need to ex­ecute in combat.

 The pilots will accomplish the majority of their aca­demic portion of training while aboard NAS Oceana, and will put their knowl­edge to the test with several weeks of air-to-air combat training aboard Naval Air Station Key West, Fla.

 “From pilots to mainte­nance, everyone will be evaluated on effective­ness as well as combat readiness,” said Heinz.

 The Checkerboards are ensuring they will be able to “fight on”, when they board the USS Harry Truman later this year.

 “I’m very excited,” said Pfc. Jordan Turner, VMFA-312 powerline mechanic. “I love 312; everyone looks out for each other and does what they need to do.”