Photo Information

A Marine fighter Attack Squadron 251 F/A-18 prepares to launch from the deck of USS Enterprise.

Photo by Cpl. Rubin Tan

Joint service protection;History aboard aircraft carrier; USS Enterprise

18 May 2012 | Cpl. Rubin Tan

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea – History is made every day through the efforts of great men and women who help shape a better future.

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 is making their mark on history a little bolder by being the last Ma­rine fighter attack squadron, under Carrier Air Wing 1, to fly off the deck of the USS Enterprise.

“I am personally proud to be here for the last cruise,” said Capt. Talbot Harlin, VMFA-251 flight officer. “This is a unique, once in a lifetime opportunity.”

The aircraft carrier is on its last voyage through the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibil­ity to upkeep maritime secu­rity operations and provide aerial support for Operation Enduring Freedom.

Once the USS Enterprise completes its mission at sea later this year it will be decommissioned after more than 50 years of service.

The USS Enterprise was the first nuclear-powered carrier and was the longest ship in the world at the time it was constructed, with an enormous 1,123-foot flight deck that is still launching aircraft today.

“It feels great to uphold the vessel’s reputation after 50 years of service and to be a part of history by be­ing here,” said Cpl. William Gillespie, VMFA-251 F/A-18 power plant mechanic and native of Columbus, Ohio.

The carrier is expected to return from its cruise in Oc­tober. Various organizations have requested Enterprise to be turned into a memo­rial after being decommis­sioned.

“The Marines and sailors of VMFA-251 are honored to have the privilege of serving aboard this great warship on its final combat deploy­ment,” said Lt. Col. Simon Doran, VMFA-251 com­manding officer. “We are a part of the Carrier Air Wing 1 and the USS Enterprise team and proudly carry the responsibility of represent­ing the Marine Corps along­side our shipmates during the 50th year of the Big-E and the 70th year of VMFA-251.”