MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. --
More than 300 family members and friends of deployed Marines and sailors cheered boisterously, held up signs and waited anxiously on the air station’s flight line for the return of their heroes.
Their six-month wait ended when 93 Marines and sailors from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 and 52 from Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 11 returned home Sept. 18, from a six-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
During the deployment, the “Black Knights” took 12 F/A-18C “Hornets” and logged more than 1,300 flight hours, while conducting about six missions a day. Their primary mission was to support ground units with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) operations.
“We were working 24 hours a day, seven days a week for whatever they needed,” said 1st Lt. Jonathan Troutman, the intelligence officer for the Black Knights. “We accomplished everything we went out there to do and more.”
The Black Knights also provided support for Iraq’s transition to its own security forces, aiding with aerial support throughout their six months in and around Al Anbar Province.
“We were like the guardian angels in the sky,” said Troutman. “We were able to see the whole battlefield about 15,000 to 20,000 feet in the air. Iraq’s transition to the security forces is right where it needs to be, and we were right in the middle of that.”
Now that they accomplished their mission and returned safely, the 3rd MAW service members can be proud of what they did and take time off with their families, commented Sgt. Simon Garcia, the Black Knights flight equipment noncommissioned officer in charge.
After their well-deserved time off, the Marines and sailors will once again begin training for their next deployment.