MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC -- Units throughout the Marine Corps are continuously rotating into Iraq and Afghanistan, with one group of Marines replacing another so they can take a break from the high operational tempo. But, the Marines of one Fightertown squadron have taken very few breaks in between their deployments in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
Since the start of the Global War on Terrorism, the Sweat Hogs of Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 have been providing constant support abroad. On Feb. 24, the Sweat Hogs said farewell to another group of Marines, and welcomed a returning detachment Tuesday.
A detachment of 72 Marines left the Air Station for a seven-month deployment to Camp Al Asad, Iraq, where they will be attached to Marine Wing Support Squadron 274 and will help support the units stationed there, according to Gunnery Sgt. Brian Akers, the detachment staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge.
"We have everything from engineers to supply Marines," Akers said. "We can do a variety of things in direct support of MWSS-274 who in turn support the whole air base."
The Sweat Hogs have proved to be successful on their previous deployments and Akers believes that this one will yield the same results.
"I think we are going to do awesome," Akers said. "We have a great group of Marines going."
This detachment will replace the Sweat Hogs who are returning from their own seven-month deployment in support of OIF. The Marines returning were attached to MWSS-272 and provided basic motor transport, limited engineer repairs on structures and rapid runway repair.
"The Marines have had their hands full, but were very successful," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Hooks, the Sweat Hogs' commanding officer. "They are all home and that is the first sign of a good mission. The Marines were out there providing everything from basic support to fueling airplanes for 150-200 sorties a day."
The Marines were happy to be back with their families and with their fellow Sweat Hogs.
"It feels good to finally be back," said Sgt. Martin Metzger, an engineer equipment operator with the Sweat Hogs. "My experience was good, although I stayed on base a lot, what I saw made a difference."
The Sweat Hogs are no strangers to having detachments of Marines or augments on deployments to Iraq or otherwise. The Sweat Hogs have continuously had Marines deploying to countries ranging from Bosnia to Afghanistan, according to Hooks.
"The squadron deployed (as a whole) in February of 2004," Hooks said. "Since then, MWSS-273 has had Marines deployed somewhere. To Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, or something else."
Having Marines constantly deploying does have its benefits for the Sweat Hogs, according to Hooks. The frequent deployments translate into vital experience.
"I have a lot of veterans in MWSS-273 right now," Hooks said. "With this next deployment in August, we will be the first MWSS to deploy twice to Iraq."
The Sweat Hogs are gearing up to deploy as a squadron and replace MWSS-274 in August. While in Iraq, the Sweat Hogs will have a two-fold mission, according to Hooks.
"The first part is aviation ground support, which is just the principle (military occupational specialty) skills, engineering and mechanics," Hooks said. "The second part is non-traditional aviation ground support, which is things like (explosive ordnance disposal) response, convoy security and aircraft and vehicle recovery."
Although many of the Marines have taken part in multiple deployments, the Sweat Hogs take their mission and their deployments in stride.
"It's our job as Marines," said Sgt. Andrew Nyser, an aircraft recovery crewmember on his second deployment with the Sweat Hogs. "It's what we have to do."