NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, Calif. – Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 363, the “Red Lions,” prepared MV-22B Ospreys for shipping to Japan on the flight line aboard Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., July 9.
The Red Lions are providing 12 aircraft to VMM-262, the newest squadron to stand up with the Osprey as its premiere aircraft in Okinawa, Japan.
For the past year, the squadron worked toward their mission of mastering these aircraft to ensure mission capability before sending the majority of their Marines and assets to the new squadron.
“This is a culminating event for the squadron,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Miller, VMM-363 commanding officer. “It took a monumental effort to get 14 aircraft prepared for this. We were asked to give 12; we have an extra two ready should the unthinkable happen.”
Preparations for the move had begun even before the aircraft were ready.
“The Marines who work with and maintain these aircraft are already headed to Japan,” said Col. Patrick Gramuglia, Marine Aircraft Group 16 commanding officer. “Now all we need to do is get the aircraft to them, and that is the purpose behind what we are doing today.”
Maintainers with the Red Lions spent the day sealing windows and putting covers over portions of the aircraft to prevent any dust, debris or animals from entering into the engines and causing malfunctions once they are used again.
“We want to ensure the safety of the pilots and crews of these aircraft so we cover as much of the openings in the aircraft as possible as a sort of preventive maintenance,” said Lance Cpl. Jeremy Corder, an airframe mechanic with the Red Lions and a Middletown, Va., native. “It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to fully prepare each aircraft.”
Nine aircraft arrived to the naval air station July 9, with three more to arrive in the following days. After all the aircraft are prepared for the journey they will be towed to a ship that will carry them to their final destination July 15.
“It’s been an all-hands effort in order to accomplish this mission,” said Gramuglia. “For this squadron to be able to perform to this kind of standard in such a short amount of time has been phenomenal.”
Gramuglia and Miller aren’t the only ones who feel proud of a job well done.
“It feels good to know I had a hand in the beginnings of a new squadron,” said Corder. “We get to build ourselves back up now, back to our former capabilities. I’m excited for my friends who will be stationed in Okinawa, Japan now; it’s a new experience and I’m sure they will grow from it.”
Now as VMM-262 is about to receive new aircraft and Red Lion spirit, VMM-363 turns its sights on the future and replenishing its former glory.