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Checkerboards fight on

By Lance Cpl. John Wilkes | | January 18, 2013


Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312, also known as the Checkerboards, deployed Jan. 12, aboard the USS Harry S. Truman in support of Navy Carrier Air Wing 3 as well as Carrier Support Group Ten.

Carrier Strike Group Ten is one of five U.S. Navy carrier strike groups currently assigned to the United States Fleet Forces Command. U.S. Navy carrier strike groups are employed in a variety of roles which involve gaining and maintaining sea control as well as projecting naval airpower ashore.

"The Navy carrier air wing attached to the USS Harry S. Truman will provide close air support for maritime security operations," said Maj. Charles Jindrich, VMFA-312’s executive officer. "We have been preparing for this deployment for quite some time."

To prepare for this deployment the Checkerboards participated in training exercises and scenarios aboard Naval Air Station Oceana, Naval Air Station Key West, and Naval Air Station Fallon and participated in a month-long pre-deployment exercise aboard the USS Harry S. Truman in September 2012.

VMFA-312 completed many training scenarios and programs such as the Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness Program. The purpose of which is to hone pilot’s skills in planning and executing various strike fighter missions. During training everyone from pilots to maintenance were evaluated on effectiveness as well as combat readiness.

"We are extremely prepared for this deployment," said Staff Sgt. Charles Stepney, VMFA- 312 operations chief.

Stepney is very confident in the abilities of his Marines.

"I’m very excited [for this deployment]," said Lance Cpl. Kevin Gibson, VMFA-312 aviation ordnance technician. "I love [VMFA-312]; everyone looks out for each other and does what they need to do."

The Checkerboards will "fight on," as their motto states, as they complete their mission aboard the USS Harry S. Truman.