MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. --
Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 352, a KC-130J squadron with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, has a long history of supporting the operational force in a range of military operations from their home.
VMGR-352, also known as the “Raiders,” possesses the ability to perform a large variety of mission sets to support both ground and aviation missions.
“Our primary mission is aerial refueling in support of other aviation units,” said Capt. Robert Craun, a logistics and embarkation officer and pilot with VMGR-352. “We also conduct ground refueling in support of helicopters and other ground units, aerial delivery of personnel and cargo, battlefield illumination, close-air support, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel (TRAP) and logistics runs.”
During the squadron’s 74 years of service, they have participated in several operations and conflicts during the Korean War, the Cold War, Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Restore Hope, the Global War on Terror, Operation Enduring Freedom and currently support Operation Inherent Resolve.
"In support of Operation Inherent Resolve, we’ve done a lot of refueling,” said Craun. “But our main mission over there is logistics and moving Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force [Crisis Response-Central Command] cargo and personnel around the battlefield and to different airports in country.”
VMGR-352 must be able to support a MAGTF commander by providing air-to-air refueling, assault support, CAS and multi-sensor imagery reconnaissance in all weather and light conditions during expeditionary, joint and combined operations.
“We give MAGTF commanders a lot of flexibility to accomplish their missions, and in order for them to do that, we have to be ready at all times,” said Capt. Taylor Carlisle, the quality assurance officer and pilot with VMGR-352. “It’s a full team effort to make a mission happen, it takes an entire aircrew to fly an aircraft, not just one pilot.”
VMGR-352 also has a continuously forward-deployed detachment of aircraft and personnel, which supports SPMAGTF- CR- CC, a MAGTF which operates in the Middle East.
“We deploy for six months at a time, swapping out half our squadron assets every three months,” said Craun. “We do it this way so there are Marines who have at least three months of experience in theater at all times.”
The “Raiders” also have the ability to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions such as in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, where the squadron flew day and night to deliver supplies and transported personnel to the affected areas. In addition, the squadron supported aid missions during floods in Pakistan in 2009.
“Being able to be relied on; where we get a call for help, and we are able to go out and accomplish a mission, is really the foundation of what the squadron operates off of,” said Carlisle.
In order to reinforce this foundation, the squadron conducts weekly training to maintain the proficiency of the aircrew, enabling Marines to execute missions in an effective and timely manner.
Recently, the training was put to the test when the squadron provided refueling support for the California Air National Guard during the rescue and airlift of a teenage boy, who suffered a seizure aboard a cruise ship off the coast of Southern California.
“We have the gratification of knowing we are able to do what we are trained to do in a real scenario, where we are able to save somebody’s life,” said Carlisle. “Doing real-life missions, brings it back to why you join the Marine Corps in the first place— to make a difference in people’s lives.”