KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan --
In a ceremony held here Nov. 20, the “Red Devils” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), relinquished their area of operation to the “Werewolves” of VMFA-122.
Lt. Col. Daniel Shipley, the Red Devils commanding officer, transferred authority to Lt. Col. John Bolt, the Werewolves commanding officer.
During their six-month deployment, the Red Devils’ pilots logged more than 4,100 combat flight hours, with more than 1,200 sorties. They also performed more than 150 weapon employment strikes – subsequently employing more than 24,000 pounds of ordnance and expending more than 30,000 20mm rounds against enemy forces.
“After our final flight, I received an e-mail from the ground commander [of India Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment] – a young captain,” Shipley said. “The e-mail depicted a story of his deployment. It was just eye opening; the stuff they went through is eye watering. But in it he thanked the Red Devils for our support. I couldn’t ask for a better ending.
“VMFA-122, you have a very important mission out here. Marines’ lives will depend on you,” Shipley continued. “Our mission was to ensure your deployment is more successful than ours. We’ve done everything to help you prepare and I know you’re ready.”
For the last six months, the Red Devils supported coalition forces with offensive air support operations from various airfields throughout the region. They conducted a wide range of missions, including close air support, interdiction, and armed reconnaissance. During their most recent preplanned strike at Kajaki Dam, the squadron targeted multiple known enemy firing positions and killed more than 14 insurgents, creating a more secure operating environment for the Marines on the ground.
While VMFA-232 was wrapping up the final few weeks of their deployment, the Werewolves were busy with pre-deployment training. They spent the last few months preparing to replace the Red Devils, a task they knew would be difficult to accomplish. They arrived capable and ready to build on the success of VMFA-232.
“We’ve been doing everything we can to get into this fight,” Bolt said. “We realize we have big shoes to fill. We look forward to continuing the fight and continuing the momentum the Red Devils have started. The Marines are ready, and they look forward to showing how Marine [tactical] air can be a lethal part of the [Marine Air Ground Task Force].”
The Red Devils are headed back to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., but leave the critical mission of the Marine fighter attack squadron in the capable hands of VMFA-122.