Friday, March 6, 2009

Super Stallion detachment leaves 13th MEU for Iraq

Story and photos by Lance Cpl. Megan Sindelar

USS BOXER, At sea (March 3, 2009) – The CH-53E detachment of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 (Reinforced), with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit left for Al Asad, Iraq March 3 to aid in missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in response to a request from United States Central Command to augment air forces in the region.

Once attached to Marine Aircraft Group 26 of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) at Al Asad Airbase, the detachment will be used for heavy lifting missions, moving combat gear, escorting foreign officials and moving the quick reaction force, in addition to other operations as needed.

“This is bittersweet. Bitter because we fight with them and we don’t want to give them up, but sweet because for those Marines to actually get in a combat theater, is an honor,” said Sgt. Maj. Enrique X. Hines, sergeant major of the 13th MEU.

OIF is a dynamic environment; the situation is constantly changing and will be a good learning and positive experience for every Marine in the detachment, said Maj. Timothy A. Sheyda, Operations Officer for HMM-163 (Rein) and CH-53E detachment officer in charge.

“The Marines in the MEU are envious but full of pride for those Marines to be the first out,” said Hines.

Sgt. Elizabeth L. Wigger, the HMM-163 (Rein.) Intelligence Chief, said that she is sad but jealous to see them go, and wishes she could accompany her friends on their mission.

“They are going to go out there and do great things,” said Wigger.

The detachment will be working 12-14 hour shifts per day, seven days a week while they are in Al Asad, but everyone is confident and excited to employ the training they have received, said Sheyda.

As they left on March 3, the powerful Super Stallions flew past the ship and over onlookers on the flight deck in a side-by-side formation, filling the USS Boxer with their thunderous rotor sounds as the detachment’s ‘farewell fly-by’.

In the meantime, the13th MEU continues current operations in US Central Command in support of regional security and stability, and looks forward to the CH-53E detachment’s return.

1 comment:

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