Marine Squadron Receives Top Honor

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa, Japan -- For exemplary performance throughout 2012, Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 was notified April 1 it had been awarded the Commandant’s Aviation Trophy, which recognizes the best overall performance and accomplishment of all assigned tasks by a Marine aviation squadron.

VMGR-152’s mission is to provide a Marine air-ground task force commander with aerial refueling, assault support, aerial delivery, battlefield illumination and other support, according to Sgt. Christopher R. Weins, a loadmaster with the squadron, which is part of Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

“On Okinawa, we refuel Marine Corps assets in the air, to include F/A-18 Hornets, AV-8B Harrier IIs and MV-22B Ospreys,” said Weins. “We also refuel joint assets with the Air Force.”

Other missions include movement of passengers, cargo and aircraft, according to Weins. The squadron’s Marines were proud to be recognized for their consistent hard work in all missions throughout the year.

“It is the commandant’s highest award to give a squadron,” said Capt. Jason B. Weaver, a KC-130J Hercules aircraft pilot with the squadron. “I think everybody was pretty excited.”

VMGR-152’s accomplishments during 2012 were made possible due to tremendous efforts from every member of the squadron, according to Lt. Col. Jason W. Julian, commanding officer of VMGR-152.

“This was a historic year for the squadron, and I certainly feel the squadron’s Marines are worthy of this recognition,” said Julian. “We achieved numerous safety and operational milestones this year and supported a wide range of training exercises and real-world operations.”

For the junior Marines, it was good to see their hard work paid off, according to Weins.

“A lot of the maintainers don’t always get to see how their work affects actual operations,” said Weins. “For the air crews, we get to go fly and see the direct effects of what the squadron does. A lot of the maintainers or operation clerks do not have that perspective, so it is good for them to know their work is appreciated and recognized.”

One contributing factor to the squadron’s success was actions taken in December 2012, when it was called upon to support vital humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations following Typhoon Bopha striking Mindanao province in the Republic of the Philippines, according to Sgt. Daniel C. Tozer, a KC-130J Hercules crew chief with the squadron.

“It was a high operational tempo while we were in the Philippines,” said Tozer. “We had planes ready once we received the call about the typhoon, and within seven hours of the request from the Philippine government for assistance, we landed our first KC-130 in Manila.”

The squadron transported relief supplies to heavily affected areas following the disaster, assisting the Philippine government and military in getting citizens the help they needed, added Tozer.

The squadron also concluded three-and-a-half years of continuous support to Operation Enduring Freedom in August 2012, when its last detachment of two aircraft, aircrew and maintenance personnel returned to Okinawa, Julian noted.

During 2012, the squadron transported 5,278,431 pounds of cargo and 15,558 passengers, aerial delivered 116,445 pounds of cargo, and airdropped 1,581 personnel throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Operations will continue as normal after earning the award, according to Weaver.

“We will continue to support III MEF throughout the region, from logistics runs to aerial refueling and aerial delivery,” said Weaver. “While we are honored, what is most important is continuing to support operations, training exercises and readiness and being the best squadron we can be.”

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