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Lt. Gen. John A. Toolan, the commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force, prepares to fly in the cockpit of a UH-1Y Huey during a familiarization flight with the Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 369 “Gunfighters” aboard Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, Calif., Jan. 8. The commanding general flies with the squadron one or two times each year to ensure he is familiar with all mission essential information.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Melissa Eschenbrenner

Gunfighters go in for kill with I MEF CG

10 Jan 2013 | Lance Cpl. Melissa Eschenbrenner

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – It is the responsibility of every unit to ensure the commander has all the information he or she needs to lead effectively. When one 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing unit began using new weaponry, they wanted to demonstrate their new capabilities.

Lt. Gen. John A. Toolan, the commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force, flew with the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 “Gunfighters,” Jan. 8, to learn about the UH-1Y Huey and the weaponry it is equipped with.
The exercise included two trips. Each gave the general a different point of view, from the pilot and crew chief.

“Generals only come to fly with us once or twice each year,” said Capt. Timothy Sakahara, a pilot with the Gunfighters and a Lancaster, Calif., native. “They make their rounds [to each squadron] to keep up-to-date with what the squadrons are doing.”

Toolan used the flight to familiarize himself with the Huey’s new laser-guided weapon system, the LAU-68F/A and used his opportunity in the cockpit to shoot one of the rockets. He also fired the M-2 .50 caliber machine gun and a GAU-17 mini-gun.

“It was hard to shoot the [M-2 .50 caliber machine gun] because you have to turn it in such tight quarters,” said Toolan. “The mini-gun was awesome to shoot. It is a powerful weapon.”

Pilots practiced various angles of flight to highlight the aircraft’s well known aerial capabilities for the general. They showed how to maneuver quickly to effectively assess and attack threats.

“The Huey is very impressive,” said Toolan. “It is fast and agile, maybe one of the best in the Marine Corps.”

Keeping well-informed about the happenings of the Marine Corps can ensure that Marines transition smoothly as less and less Marines are deployed, explained Toolan when he after the flight.

Having knowledgeable Marines up and down the chain of command, from privates to generals, ensures every mission runs seamlessly.