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An F-16 "Fighter Falcon" belonging to 34th Fighter Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, arrives at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar's flight line after conducting close air support missions, at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twenty-nine Palms, Calif. July 14. The Rude Rams also worked with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 121 July 8 through 18.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Manuel F. Guerrero

Marines, airmen share skies to accomplish joint training mission

31 Jul 2009 | Lance Cpl. Manuel F. Guerrero

Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 121 hosted 75 airmen and four F-16 “Fighting Falcons” with the 34th Fighter Squadron from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, July 8 through 18.

The primary mission of the 34th FS “Rude Rams” was to provide air support for the Enhanced Mojave Viper training at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms.

The Rude Rams also got a chance to train with the “Green Knights” during their 10-day stay. The squadrons performed Combat Air Support and Forward Air Control (Airborne) missions together.

The joint-service training helped both the airmen and Marines learn how to effectively interact with one another while trying to accomplish missions.

“It was a great experience to train alongside a Marine Corps squadron because we very well could be conducting missions with them when we deploy to Afghanistan,” said Air Force Capt. David T. Still, officer in charge for the Rude Rams detachment to the air station.

The communication difference between the services did not hinder day-to-day operations, commented Still. They worked together to get the missions completed.

“Our languages are different because of how we train,” said Still. “The squadrons still have a lot more in common because at the end of the day, our missions stay the same - always on target and on time.”

The Rude Rams became the first squadron from Hill AFB to participate in the Enhanced Mojave Viper training exercise. They provided CAS and FAC-As for the Marines at MCAGCC Twentynine Palms, logging over 60 hours of flight time.

Working with the Marines provided an element of realism the unit’s training missions sometimes lack because it doesn’t have ground forces, added Still.

“They do a lot of integration with the guys on the ground in the Mojave Viper exercise,” said Still. “We simulate a lot of that with our training, but it’s a lot more realistic seeing the assets first hand.”

Although the training provided a chance for the airmen to work with ground forces, they were not the only ones who gained a new experience.

“The training benefitted both squadrons,” said Capt. Wesley J. Earhart, a pilot for VMFA(AW)-121. “We gave them more insight on how they can polish their close air support skills, and our pilots received refreshment on close air support qualifications.”

Both squadrons communicated, flew and accomplished the missions together during the 10-day exercise. Now, they are each better prepared to handle operations in a joint environment.

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3rd Marine Aircraft Wing