MCAS CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- A number of Marines from the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 who supported the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) in Afghanistan were recently decorated during a ceremony in Cherry Point.
Col. Kenneth McKenzie, 22nd MEU (SOC) commanding officer, presented 13 Air Medals, one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and seven Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals to members of the squadron.
The squadron flew more than 150 combat missions, transporting Marines, Sailors, fuel, and supplies to various airstrips around Afghanistan, most notably Forward Operating Base Ripley near the town of Tarin Kowt. The Marines who flew were in constant danger from enemy fire.
"The biggest threat was probably small-arms fire, because we were flying so low," said Sgt. Doug Rumick, a Chicago native who serves as a flight mechanic for the squadron.
To reduce the risk of being spotted, the KC-130s flew almost exclusively at night, landing and taking off with the aid of night-vision goggles.
That didn't deter enemy forces from trying to shoot them down. Anti-Coalition forces would attempt to damage or destroy the aircraft by first putting a spotlight on the bird. Fortunately, all enemy attempts to significantly damage the squadron’s KC-130R Hercules failed.
“This [the KC-130] was the indispensable aircraft,” said McKenzie in his address to the squadron. “Marines are alive today because of what you did.”
The KC-130Rs conducted 500 sorties, delivered 2.5 million lbs of cargo, 1.8 million lbs of fuel and transported over 3,000 personnel.
For more information on the 22nd MEU (SOC), visit the unit's web site at http://www.22meu.usmc.mil.