CENTRAL COMMAND AREA OF OPERATIONS -- Throughout history, many military disasters have been preceded by a break, and sometimes just a kink, in a unit's supply chain. To ensure this doesn't happen to its forward-deployed Marine Expeditionary Units, the Marine Corps forward deploys KC130 Hercules transport aircraft in the MEUs' areas of operation to keep them supplied.
Since its departure from North Carolina in late February, the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), has benefited from the hard work and tireless efforts of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadrons 252 and 452.
The units' aircraft are used to perform aerial refueling of the MEU's AV8B Harrier II attack aircraft and CH53E Super Stallion helicopters, bring in much-needed supplies and spare parts, and transport personnel to and from the MEU's regional location.
These units, which are pre-positioned at key airfields to provide timely support to the 22nd MEU (SOC), represent the Marine Corps' active duty and reserve air components, and are a key element in the MEU's success.
Activated in June 1928, VMGR-252 "Otis" has a long and storied past. During its 74 years, VMGR-252 has flown throughout the skies above Europe, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Middle East in support of training exercises, combat operations, and humanitarian relief efforts.
The squadron set a turbo prop transport altitude record in 1964 when it ascended to 46,000 feet during a flight, and the next year conducted the first aerial refueling of a CH-3 helicopter. In 1990, a squadron KC130 crew flew the first night vision goggle landing in Marine Corps history.
VMGR-252 currently flies the KC130F and R models Hercules aircraft, and to date, has logged more than 370,000 class-A mishap free flight hours.
Just as VMGR-252 is the oldest continuously active Marine Corps squadron, the VMGR-452 "Yankees" is one of its youngest.
The reserve squadron's colors were unfurled in September 1988 and has maintained a robust training and operational tempo supporting active and reserve Marine forces. VMGR-452, which flies the KC130T, operates from Stewart Air National Guard Base, New York and is staffed by reserve Marines and a contingent of active duty service members.
With most of its reserve squadron members natives or current residents of New York, the current deployment means something special for the "Yankees" in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
"It feels really good to be out here supporting the MEU," said Sgt. Barone Morales, of Eustis, Fla., a loadmaster with VMGR-452. "I was in New York on September 11, and see our deployment as an opportunity to strike back at the people who attacked us. It really gives a sense of purpose to a job we sometimes take for granted. It's much more rewarding than the normal supply missions we fly."
For more information on the 22nd MEU (SOC), visit the unit's website at www.22meu.usmc.mil.