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Marines with Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, prepare to present the battle color ribbons during the MAG-39 50th anniversary ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 16. MAG-39 held a rededication and battle color ceremony to commemorate the unit’s proud history. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Juan Anaya/Released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Juan Anaya

“America’s MAG” celebrates 50 years of history

16 Apr 2018 | Lance Cpl. Juan Anaya and Sgt. Brytani Wheeler 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Memories were recounted as Marines and veterans shared stories of their time in service during Marine Aircraft Group 39's 50th anniversary ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, California, April 16.

MAG-39, also known as “America’s MAG,” was first activated at Quang Tri Airfield in the Republic of Vietnam on April 16, 1968. Originally assigned to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, MAG-39 participated in the Vietnam War until its deactivation in October 1969. Since the Vietnam War, America’s MAG has continued to build on their illustrious history of supporting Marines worldwide in a range of military operations including troop and cargo transport, humanitarian relief assistance and combat operations.

“Today is important because we have a chance to see our legacy,” said Lt. Col. Louis P. Simon, executive officer of MAG-39, 3rd MAW. “The Marines of the past and the Marines of the present get a chance to socialize together and talk about support with our ground brothers and sisters.”

Col. Matthew T. Mowery, the group commanding officer, invited previous members and commanding officers to speak to the crowd about their experiences.
“It really gives a sense of identity,” said Simon. “It gives an opportunity to hear about what the MAG was like in its origin and throughout the last 50 years. It gives us sort of a sense of belonging and ownership.”

“MAG-39 has given strength and versatility to the Marine Air-Ground Task Force,” stated the narrator, Staff Sgt. Raul A. Fuster. Retired Col. Joseph “Jumping Joe” Snyder’s spoke during the ceremony stating, “I’m extremely impressed from what I see here today and I could see this is a big deal. Fifty years is a long period of time for most people,” he stated in reference to the significance of the anniversary.

Throughout MAG-39’s proud history, they served around the world and even close to home. During base-wide flooding in 1977-1978, the unit provided support to the Marines and families that lived in base housing. Retired Col. Terry “Skip” Curtis recalled, “During that time there were Marines stranded in Camp Pendleton. How did they get their food? How did they get their water? With the support of MAG-39 helicopters we flew water and food out to people.”

“I’ve been part of MAG-39 for most of my career,” said Retired Brig. Gen. Mike Aguilar, former MAG-39 commanding officer from 1995-1997. “So many of the Marines that I met here today are Marines I served with, so it’s really an opportunity to reacquaint myself with them. It really feels like part of a family and that’s why it’s important to me to participate today.”

The older generation was proud to pass information to the younger generation.

“We follow the footsteps of the Marines before us,” said Aguilar. “It is important to be able to address the young Marines today and share with them the experiences not only I went through, but my observations and recollections of everyone who was here today and previous members of MAG-39 contributed to what this air group has done, to support not only the Marine Corps’ mission in support of the Division, but it being a part of America.”

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