MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Marines and sailors of Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 huddled with friends and family inside VMU-1’s hangar during a cold morning Sunday before they departed the Combat Center on a seven-month deployment to Iraq.
VMU-1, call sign “Watchdogs,” will be deploying to Al Anbar Province, Iraq, to support infantry units by accompanying them during convoys and patrols with surveillance missions by their unmanned aerial systems.
“We can tell we’re making a difference by the way grunts are requesting us during their deployments,” said Capt. Julian Rosemond, the officer-in-charge of VMU-1’s Remain Behind Element. “They now have the option to see a full-motion video what is going on when it is happening in a birds-eye view.
“It is a lot safer for them to be patrolling, and in many instances it has saved lives,” added Rosemond, a Cary, N.C., native. “We are capable of telling patrolling Marines where insurgents are, and pretty much give them directions to where they need to go.”
VMU-1 also deployed with their new commanding officer, Lt. Col. Richard Jordan, executive officer, Maj. Lance T. Arp and sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. William P. Toves, who have worked with the Marines under them to make their deployment a success, Rosemond said.
“VMU-1’s new commanding officer knows what needs to be done, Rosemond
said, “And the Marines want to do what he says. It is a recipe for success. I can tell the Marines really appreciate what he stands for and how hard he works to accomplish the mission.”
Lance Cpl. Derrick Baisa, an aviation supply specialist with VMU-1, also said he
had confidence in his leaders, knowing they will take care of all the Marines deployed with the unit.
“I know we’re going to do a good job, but I still want the deployment to be a speedy seven months,” said Baisa, an El Paso, Texas, native. “This is my second deployment, so I know all the stress is just getting there. When we get to Iraq, I just want to do my job and come home to my family.”
Throughout the summer, VMU-1 completed more than 250 hours of training at the Combat Center’s Expeditionary Airfield in conditions similar to what they will
experience while deployed.
“This is my fourth deployment to Iraq,” said Sgt. Daniel McKelvey, a field radio operator from Clemson, S.C. “I’m ready and excited to get over there.”
Rosemond also said the unit was well-prepared due to the new leadership and family readiness officer, who helped the deploying Marines deal with family issues before their deployment.
“A lot of stress Marines have in Iraq is from family problems back home,” said Rosemond. “Because of the support and help these Marines received before going over, they don’t have that family stress looming over them.”