MCAS BEAUFORT, S.C. --
Fightertown pilots and weapons system officers graduated from the Marine Division Tactics Course at the Officers’ Club, Friday.
Graduates, course instructors and family members raised a glass after the ceremony to celebrate the completion of one the most difficult and selective courses available to Marine Corps aviators.
“It was a long course but definitely worth it,” said Maj. Charles Jindrich, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312, aircraft maintenance officer. “It’s a good feeling to be done with it.”
Marine Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 train Marine aviators all over the world. The squadron received help from Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401 and the United States Air Force’s 64th Aggressor Squadron.
“The knowledge we give them on every sortie is applied and they change or adjust their flight leadership and execution of tactics in order to successfully execute the next day’s sorties,” said Capt. Kyle Haire, MAWTS-1 tactical F/A-18 Hornet instructor.
Both VMFT-401 and the 64th AGRS flew against Air Station pilots during the Marine Corps’ equivalent to the Navy’s TOPGUN program.
“It’s great that the MAWTS instructors can come to Beaufort and bring the latest expertise to train our pilots,” said LT. Col. Joseph Reedy, VMFA 312 commanding officer. “This adds another really solid form of instruction to train up our young pilots.
“I’m also really happy with what the squadron was able to accomplish. The whole squadron stepped it up to support the jets that we needed for MDTC.”
One Marine from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron-122, four Marines from Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224, and one Marine from VMFA-312 completed the course.
One quarter of the four-week course was spent in the classroom and preparing and briefing for the practical application against VMFT-401’s F-5N Tiger IIs and the 64th AGRS’ F-16C Fighting Falcons. The pilots endured early mornings and late nights training and preparing for each sortie flown.
“It’s a team effort, 100-percent,” Jindrich said. “Nothing can be accomplished on your own.
“Everybody helped each other out and we accomplished everything from preparation for flight to leading flights and having your wingmen support you 100-percent of the way.”
The graduates flew away with new knowledge and experience readily available for their peers aboard the Air Station. They are more than just seasoned pilots they are mentors and teachers.
“The knowledge they have obtained over the last couple of weeks will be [passed on] to their air crews throughout the rest of their career.” Haire said. “Those experiences are going to be brought out and make entire squadrons better every day they are there.”