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Bats screech into Iwakuni

Marine Corps News


Story by Lance Cpl. Josh Hauser

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- The Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 Bats arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni Sept. 13 for a six-month tour under the Unit Deployment Program.

The unit hails from Miramar, California, and has 12 F/A-18D Hornet aircraft and approximately 200 personnel.

The primary mission of the Bats will be to support real world operations throughout out the western Pacific, according to Lt. Col. Todd Kemper, VMFA(AW)-242 commanding officer.

"Simply stated our mission is combat readiness," said Kemper. "We intend to take advantage of anything that comes our way."

Although many of the unit's Marines are on their first deployment, the Bats by no means are strangers to Iwakuni. The squadron was here under the UDP from March 2001 to Oct. 2001.

"The unit itself has been here before, but this is the first time a lot of our Marines have been overseas," said Sgt. Maj. Charles Oldham, VMFA(AW)-242 sergeant major. "I joined the unit their last 45 days in Iwakuni in 2001, and I've been looking forward to coming back ever since."

Despite the Bats large turnover of Marines since the last they were here, they are more than ready to take on the opportunities that may arise for them while in Japan. The unit wasted no time jumping into just those opportunities, according to Oldham.

"We've already had a few aircraft and personnel take off for training in other regions in this theater," said Oldham. "We're here to support the Marine Aircraft Group throughout the Pacific Theater and our more seasoned Marines who have been to Japan before know what to expect."

"Our Marines that are new to the unit are very excited to be on this side of the globe," said Oldham. "Most Marines get pumped about being overseas and they wind up hating when it's time to leave."

The Marines are very enthusiastic and looking forward to their six-month assignment in Iwakuni.

"I actually requested to be stationed overseas originally," said Lance Cpl. Benjamin Salyers, VMFA(AW)-242 aviation ordnance technician. "I want to learn a little Japanese and try out the indoor snowboarding I've heard about. I'm excited to have the opportunity to see another country and learn about a different culture."

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