VMFA-323 Marines return with USS Ronald Reagan

16 Aug 2010 | Lance Cpl. Alexandra M. Harris

After two months of operations aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, approximately 200 Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323 “Death Rattlers” returned to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Aug. 7 and 8.

The USS Ronald Reagan transported the Marines, who left for Hawaii June 16, to Naval Air Station North Island where family and friends waited to greet them.

Eight F/A-18 “Hornets” with the squadron flew directly to MCAS Miramar.

The Death Rattlers' training prepared the Marines for their upcoming deployment to the Persian Gulf next year, and to participate in the 2010 Rim of the Pacific exercise in Hawaii June 23 through Aug. 1.

The RIMPAC exercise is the world’s largest multinational naval exercise. Since its inception in 1971, the exercise demonstrates the commitment of multiple nations to guard sea lanes of commerce and communication, protect national interests abroad and ensure freedom of navigation.

“We are getting foreign navies together to promote cooperation and camaraderie that helps us build on our relationships with our allies,” said Navy Cmdr. Douglas Carpenter, the operations department officer aboard the USS Ronald Reagan.

This year’s RIMPAC involved five submarines, 34 surface ships, hundreds of aircraft and more than 20,000 service members. Participants in the exercise came from Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Peru, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and the U.S.

The squadron participated in all four phases of RIMPAC. Phase one allowed different ships’ crews to become acquainted with each other; phase two allowed ships to perform individual operations and phase three involved integrating all the ships together into fleets. Throughout phase four, all the ships participated in war games.

The squadron contributed to beach landings, anti-submarine and mine warfare, piracy counter drills, ship-boarding and basic beach assault exercises.

VMFA-323 is the first Marine squadron to conduct operations aboard the USS Ronald Reagan since its commission in 2003.