Marine Eagles fly with AF Falcons and Thunderbolts
By Airman 1st Class Gina Chiaverotti, 51st Communications Squadron
/ Published February 20, 2007
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
As you may have heard while sitting in your dorm room relaxing, there has been a different type of plane flying around Osan for the past month or so.
The reason for this is the Fixed Marine Fighter Attack Wing VMFA-115, also known as the Silver Eagles, are performing joint training with the 36th and 25th Fighter Squadrons in their F/A-18 Hornets.
The squadron is based out of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, but also works with Marines from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.
The squadron will be here for a total of five weeks as part of a Unit Deployment Program which consists of a squadron deploying for six months to different locations.
The squadron consists of about 160 people including 18 pilots, four ground officers, crew chiefs, avionics specialists, and more. The squadron brought 11 jets and flew approximately 18 sorties a day.
While stationed here, the Silver Eagles worked hand in hand with Osan's fighter squadrons on air-to-air and air-to-ground combat training. They also performed dissimilar air combat training which helps pilots see how they maneuver with different jets.
The training provided the Marines a chance to recognize different aircraft, its threat, and how well they can take control of the air space.
"Working with the units in the terrain that we would have to fight in here is invaluable to us," said Maj. Clay Berardi, VMFA-115 pilot.
Also, while training with the Air Force it gives some of the Marines a chance to learn some of the Air Force's terminology, and how they brief and de-brief.
The Marines faced some challenges while stationed here. Being in a foreign country there is a language barrier when talking to Korean controllers, said Capt. Whittaker, VMFA-115 pilot. Also, working remote from their home base caused difficulties getting parts for the aircraft. Instead of getting a part the next day they now have to rely on mail and lifts to get a part to fix the air craft.
While here, the 51st Fighter Wing has provided the Marines with lodging, transportation and access to the dining facilities.
Even though the Marines may be working hard while here, some think it's a little bit of a vacation also.
"We're Marines, so were used to tents. But here every Marine has his own room which is a rarity. Also, the exchange is great and of course downtown and the shopping is great," Major Berardi said. "When we're not working it is a little bit of a vacation for us, which is great."
"The support we have gotten from the Air Force side is outstanding," said commanding officer Lt. Col. Randy Nash, "The 51st FW and the fighter squadrons have all been outstanding!"