Photo Information

Marines with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 depart Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort for the Western Pacific in support of the Unit Deployment Program, Jan. 9.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Brendan Roethel

Fighting Bengals roar into Western Pacific

21 Jan 2014 | Lance Cpl. Brendan Roethel

Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 deployed from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort to the Western Pacific in support of the Unit Deployment Program, Jan. 9.

The squadron will train and support other Marine units during Lava Viper training at Hiccum Air Force Base in Hawaii, and conduct multinational exercises with Marine Aircraft Group 12 in Japan and throughout the Western Pacific for six months. The mission of the deployment is to improve relations with America’s allies and expose Marines to broader training environments.

“This deployment will offer a variety of experiences for all the Marines in the squadron” said Sgt. Harold Blye, an imagery analyst for VMFA(AW)-224. “During the deployment the Marines will get to work alongside Marines in different units as well as service members from other countries. This will allow the Marines to get more familiar with each other and those outside of their squadron to make them work more cohesively to accomplish a common goal. Lava Viper training will be especially beneficial in getting our Marines ready for what’s to come in the following months.”

Lava Viper is a combined-arms exercise designed to enhance the capabilities of ground combat and support element Marines participating.

“I am pretty excited about this deployment” said Sgt. Maj. Stacey Holcomb, the squadron sergeant major for VMFA(AW)-224. “We will get to interact with our counterparts in the Western Pacific and refine our skills. This deployment will be especially beneficial for our squadron’s junior Marines by giving them the tools to continue developing in their [Military Occupational Specialty] and as Marines. It will also show everyone how vital they are to not only our squadron’s mission, but the larger mission of the Marine Corps as well.”

The Marine Corps utilizes UDP’s to improve unit continuity and reduce the number of accompanied tours.