VMFA-251 receives Robert M. Hanson award

18 Apr 2013 | Cpl. John Wilkes

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251, also known as the Thunderbolts, was named Marine Fighter Attack Squadron of the Year by the Marine Corps Aviation Association, April 1.

VMFA-251 is slated to be presented the Robert M. Hanson award during an awards banquet at the Marine Corps Aviation Association Reunion and Symposium in Reno, Nev., May 18.

The Robert M. Hanson award recognizes the superior performance of a Marine Fighter Attack Squadron. The winner is chosen by the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ Aviation Awards Board.

"There are a lot of categories and fields looked at to decide who wins the award," said Capt. Jason Robertson, flight officer with VMFA-251. "They look at everything from safety to training and deployments. It’s basically a summary of what the squadron has accomplished throughout the year."

The award is held in high regard because it reflects the squadron as a whole.

"It is a big honor for the Thunderbolts to receive the award," said Robertson. "The squadron worked extremely hard and everyone contributed."

During 2012, the squadron flew 4,909.9 flight hours, 2,605.8 hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, launched 2,077 sorties and achieved a 99 percent sortie completion rate.

In addition, the squadron achieved the metric of over 50,000 mishap free flight hours.

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 began an eight-month combat deployment embarked aboard USS ENTERPRISE after returning from their previous deployment eight months prior.

The maintenance Marines of VMFA-251 carried the load, putting in over 50,000 maintenance man-hours over the course of the year, generating a fully mission capable rate of nearly 60 percent and a partially mission capable rate of 70 percent. The VMFA-251 maintenance department was awarded the Golden Wrench Award by Carrier Air Wing One as the best maintenance department in the air wing.

Through unwavering dedication to their mission, professionalism, and hard work, the 225 Marines and sailors of VMFA-251 came together as one unstoppable war-fighting unit. The result: 100% successful support of ground commander’s intent executed without a single mishap.

"Every Marine worked very hard; winning this award is great," said Lance Cpl. Cleo Harris, operations clerk with VMFA- 251. "It brings real gratification to the hard work the Marines of VMFA-251 put in every day."