AL ASAD, Iraq -- The Thunderbolts and the Rooks waited patiently in formation the afternoon of Oct. 12 for the arrival of their special guest, Rear Adm. Raymond Spicer at Al Asad, Iraq.
Spicer, commander, Carrier Strike Group Twelve, flew to the air base to visit the Marines and sailors of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 and Electronic Attack Squadron 137, Carrier Air Wing One, CSG-12, and commend them on their work while detached from the USS Enterprise.
“I came to visit our Marines and sailors in Iraq, who have been doing great work for the strike group,” said Spicer. “I wanted to come up here personally to tell them and also update them of information within the strike group.”
After being announced, the squadrons gathered around the admiral while he spoke. Spicer noted the squadrons’ valuable performance while in Al Asad.
“I hear about their work every day, several times a day,” said Spicer. “Every mission has been completed, and their flight hours are at 100 percent. It was an excellent choice to send the Thunderbolts and the Rooks to Al Asad, and it was a great opportunity to be able to take full advantage of it and accomplish great work.”
Spicer also updated the squadrons of upcoming port calls on the carrier, and the date the USS Enterprise is expected to arrive at port in the United States.
“The admiral’s visit was definitely motivating,” said Cpl. Joel Richeson, fixed-wing transport aircraft specialist, VMFA-251. “It was great to have him come here and show his presence. Being off the carrier, we are in a new environment and don’t know too much of what the carrier is doing. His trip let us know we have amazing ports to visit, and knowing when I’ll be home makes things more uplifting.”
The admiral will stay with the squadron for a short time before returning to the USS Enterprise.
“So far my visit has been wonderful,” said Spicer. “The best part is being able to meet the sailors and Marines. I’m looking forward to the rest of my time here. I may not want to leave.”
The squadrons presented the admiral with an Iraqi flag, as well as a squadron coin from the Rooks.
“(His visit) let us know our squadrons were not forgotten about, and it proves we are doing something unique out here,” said Richeson. “The strike group is interested in the missions we are doing. I believe he came out here because he cares about us as Marines and sailors. The admiral really encouraged us and the job we are doing.”