Photo Information

An AV-8B Harrier slowly lowers itself to the runway at Al Asad, Iraq, March 7. The Harrier, an aircraft capable of both vertical and horizontal take-offs and landings, is with Marine Attack Squadron 513, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Brian J. Holloran

VMA-513 Nightmares ready to strike fear in the enemy

16 Mar 2006 | Lance Cpl. Brian J. Holloran

An AV-8B Harrier screams loudly as it slowly lowers itself to the runway. Four other Harriers circle above, waiting for their turn to land - the Flying Nightmares have arrived.

While the main body of Marine Attack Squadron 513, originally from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., arrived here a few weeks ago, the actual aircraft arrived March 7 to a unit ready to get to work.

"The main body arrived prior to the aircraft in order to unpack and have the work centers established," said Gunnery Sgt. Travis A. White, quality assurance chief for VMA-513, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. "We have been ready to fix and fly jets since we set our boots on the ground at Al Asad."

The Nightmares are here for approximately seven months, during which their main mission is to provide the ground units with close air support.

According to Lt. Col. Willis E. Price, commanding officer, VMA-513, the Flying Nightmares are here to continue the high standards set by the departing squadron, VMA-223, MAG-26, 2nd MAW.

"We will be doing our best to complete the job assigned to us, and we will give every bit of our effort to meet or exceed the expectations laid upon us," said Price, a native of Little Rock, Ark.

According to Price, this is the first deployment for many of the Marines with VMA-513, but they are ready to get to work.

"I am excited to be here," said Lance Cpl. Norma Valadezmagno, a flight equipment technician for VMA-513. "It's a completely new environment and I know I will experience many new things out here."

While many of the Marines are on their first deployments, there is a lot of experience in the squadron, as a few have been deployed to the combat environment a few times.

"We have Marines on their second and third deployments with us," said Price. "A few of my Marines have been deployed in support of (Operations Iraqi Freedom) one and two."

Regardless of past experiences, the Nightmares came here to accomplish a job and that is the most prominent thought on the Marines' minds.

"Our Marines are more than ready to work on the jets," said Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Evans, maintenance control chief for VMA-513. "We've gone through many training evolutions, such as Desert Talon, before we deployed. We went through an inspection of the maintenance department that was conducted by 3rd MAW shortly before we left and we passed with flying colors."

Much has changed for the Nightmares since their previous deployment in support of OIF. They have a few new pilots, a new commanding officer and the Joint Direct Attack Munition.

The JDAM is a guidance kit that converts existing unguided free-fall munitions into accurately guided smart weapons.

"The JDAM increases our abilities to accurately target threats from the air," said Price. "We tell the bombs where to go and that's where they go. Before JDAM we had to physically line the shot up."

With these improvements, along with the high morale and motivation of the squadron, the Flying Nightmares plan to jump right into their jobs and help support OIF.

"The Marines are excited about being here," said Evans, a native of Pasadena, Texas. "Our job remains virtually unchanged from back home. The only difference is we are not flying any training ordnance. All the jets go out with live bombs to directly support the ground combat effort. My Marines are chomping at the bit and are ready to make history."