Photo Information

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. William Johnson, right, and Pvt. George Berry, left, plane captains with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 232, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, prepare to launch F/A-18C Hornet airplanes to participate in a deployment for training (DFT) on Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., May 16, 2013. The training prepared the squadron for future combat and contingency operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Gregory Moore, 3rd MAW Combat Camera/Released)

Photo by Sgt. Gregory Moore

Gulf Coast gets ‘Red Devils’ visit

5 May 2013 | Sgt. Lisa Tourtelot 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

The “Red Devils” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232 returned to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., from a large evaluation and training exercise aboard Tyndall Air Force Base, Fl., May 18.

The F/A-18 Hornet squadron took on a grueling schedule of 18 flights a day for two weeks to successfully fire 14 missiles and perform numerous air-to-air gunfights against a moving target.

“Almost everybody got to shoot a missile and almost everybody got to do air-to-air [gun shoots] against a towed target,” said Maj. Robert Dickinson, the Red Devils executive officer and Woodinville, Wash., native. “It’s undeniably made the squadron more lethal, and that’s what it comes down to when you’re an F/A-18 squadron.”

In addition to the live-fire exercises, the squadron also participated in training against F-22 Raptors, F-15 Eagles and F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

“We were the first squadron to fight the F-35,” said Lt. Col. Byron Sullivan, the Red Devils commanding officer and Havelock, N.C., native. “I’m glad they’re on our side.”

While conducting the training, the Navy Weapon System Evaluation Program, with the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group aboard Tyndall, monitored each exercise and each aspect of squadron mission readiness.

“The support they gave us was tremendous,” said Sullivan. “To have that kind of expertise is pretty amazing.”

Sullivan credited the success of the operation to the Marines of his squadron.

“The hardest thing about flying these jets is getting it to the end of the runway, and that’s what these Marines do,” said Sullivan. “Every single piece of the chain – the airframes, the engine maintenance, the [heads-up display], the administration and the logistics to get us there – made this detachment a success.”

The Red Devils are scheduled to deploy later this year to Iwakuni, Japan, to support operations across the Pacific.