AL ASAD, Iraq -- In the wake of a dusty CH-46 landing at one of Iraq’s largest coalition bases Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. William L. Nyland visited 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Marines here Aug. 24.
During Nyland’s visit he met with pilots from Marine Attack Squadron 542 and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (All Weather) 242, who provided the Marine Corps’ top aviator with an assessment of their Marines and flight operations.
During the initial briefing, Lt. Col. Russell A. Sanborn, commanding officer, VMA 542, and Lt. Col. Kevin M. Iiams, VMFA(AW)-242 commanding officer, updated Nyland on the performance of their respective squadrons, while lauding the operational successes of their newly added (fighter jet) “litening pods.”
“So far the pods have been outstanding,” said Iiams, whose squadron is the first F/A-18 Hornet squadron to employ the self-contained, multi-sensor laser designating and navigation system. “They have increased the effectiveness of our target detection and attack capabilities greatly.”
After expressing appreciation for the detailed report, Nyland asked the Marines if there was any way he could assist them in performing their jobs. He also mentioned the exceptional working relationship between reserve and active duty Marines and said it all comes back to the individual Marine who makes a difference in bringing the Marine team together.
Nyland continued his tour here along side other top leadership, including Maj. Gen. Keith J. Stalder, commanding general, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and Lt. Gen. Richard L. Kelly, deputy commandant for installations and logistics, conversing with Marines during each stop aboard the airbase.
While touring Al Asad’s perimeter defenses, Nyland also joined the Marines manning a watchtower overlooking the base and the open desert beyond, to give them words of encouragement.
Rounding out his visit here, Nyland shook hands and spoke with Marines who had just returned from a security patrol and reassured them of the importance of their mission in Iraq. The assistant commandant told the Marines they were doing a great job of, “keeping their heads in the game and taking care of each other.”
According to one Marine, Nyland’s visit elevated spirits and reinforced the critical nature of the coalition’s duty in Iraq.
“For us, a visit by someone like (the assistant commandant) is truly a morale booster,” said Lance Cpl. Stanford Anderson, stinger missile gunner, 3rd Low-Altitude Air Defense Battalion, Marine Wing Support Group 37, 3rd MAW, and native of Oakland, Calif. “We are at a high state of readiness and (his) visit really makes you realize the importance of our mission.”
At the conclusion of his visit, Nyland mentioned he was extremely impressed by the Marines at Al Asad and that the American people can be proud of the work they are doing here.
“Out here on the front line serving their country, these Marines truly represent what it means to be a Marine,” he emphasized.