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Marines with Marine Aerial Transport Squadron 234 load a 1,200-pound load of Meals, Ready-to-Eat at the Expeditionary Air Field Sept. 15. The MREs were delivered to Marines and sailors training in Mojave Viper, a month-long pre-deployment training evolution. The remain behind element of Marine Wing Support Squadron 374 also supported the Marines of VMGR-234 during the operation.

Photo by Cpl. Nicole A. LaVine

VMGR-234, MWSS-374 team up to support Mojave Viper

15 Sep 2008 | Cpl. Nicole A. LaVine

Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 234 performed an aerial delivery operation in support of Mojave Viper, a month-long pre-deployment training evolution, here Sept 15.

VMGR-234, a reserve Marine KC-130 squadron based out of Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, operating out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., air dropped Meals, Ready-to-Eat to Marines and sailors of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, a Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., -based battalion, training here, said Lt. Col. Doug D. Stumpf, VMGR-234 executive officer and aircraft commander for the mission.

The remain behind element of Marine Wing Support Squadron 374 also supported the Marines of VMGR-234 during the operation, said Capt. John M. Bussard, MWSS-374 RBE officer-in-charge.

Marines of MWSS-374 provided personnel support, fork-lifts to load and unload the cargo, fuel for the aircraft, and use of the Expeditionary Air Field, added Bussard. 

“MWSS heavy equipment and airfield services were instrumental in the Rangers [VMGR-234] being able to get aloft and deliver the payload that the aerial delivery Marines prepared,” said Bussard, a Ringoes, N.J., native.

The load operation, which lasted two days, was the first container delivery system aerial re-supply drop performed in support of Mojave Viper for VMGR-234, said Stumpf, an Aledo, Texas, native.

“This is the first re-supply operation we have done to support Mojave Viper, but we’ve done many aerial tanking operations in the desert before,” he said, referring to in-flight refueling operations for aircraft like F/A-18 Hornet Jets and CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters.

Stumpf continued, explaining the 1,200-pound load of MREs was a daytime drop in a combat scenario where the loads were deployed from the back of the aircraft with parachutes at Lead Mountain Range aboard the Combat Center training area.

Supplies and equipment are usually delivered to training and deployed units by truck instead of by air, said Staff Sgt. Brendan C. Johnson, VMGR-234 load master.

“If a unit is in a remote location or it’s too dangerous for convoys, that’s the time when we use aerial delivery,” said Johnson, a Fort Worth, Texas, native.

In addition to providing food for Marines and sailors in the field, the operation also offered the reserve Marines training on navigation of drop zones, proper loading and unloading of supply crates, air-to-ground coordination and communication, and making sure crew members are familiar with applicable check lists, added Johnson.

“We come out to Twentynine Palms about twice a month to support training,” he said, noting it usually involves aerial tanking.

After the drop operation was completed Wednesday, the VMGR-234 crew reported to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., for pilot proficiency training before returning to Fort Worth Thursday, said Stumpf.


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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms