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MWHS-3 supports OIF II in Iraq

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 3/11/2004

Story by Sgt. J.L. Zimmer III

AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq(March 11, 2004) -- July 2003 marked the return of the last units from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.

Now, less than one year after their return home, the Marines and Sailors of Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3 have returned to provide the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing with logistical support and force protection.

"We are here to prepare and maintain work and living spaces for the Wing Headquarters element," said Lt. Col. Glenn Murray, commanding officer MWHS-3.

Flying more than 8,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean and touching ground on three separate continents, many of the Marines and Sailors of MWHS-3 are returning veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt. Jonathan B. Davis, nuclear, biological and chemical warfare specialist, MWHS-3, was attached to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines during Operation Iraqi Freedom and witnessed first hand the reaction of the Iraqi people after they had been liberated.

"The first time I was here, we were here to topple Saddam Hussein and liberate the people of this country," said the 22-year-old Cleveland, Tenn., native. "Now we are here to stabilize the country and jump-start the people to let them know what it is like to live free and without fear."

The first phase of the war in Iraq saw the use of nearly all of 3rd MAWs fixed-wing and rotary-wing assets to support troops on the ground. This time, only the workhorses of the 3rd MAW will be used.

"We did not bring any tactical air support (F/A-18 Hornets) or any AV-8B Harriers to Iraq this time," Murray said. "We brought everything else, to include CH-46 Sea Knights and CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters from MCAS Miramar and Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 from Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

"The whole force that is here under the 3rd MAW is a compilation of units and personnel from all four Marine Aircraft Wings," he added. "We have Marines from Yuma, Ariz., Okinawa, Japan and New Orleans."

As part of the largest group of coalition forces to assist in the rebuilding of Iraq since conflict ended last year, the Marines and Sailors of MWHS-3 want to do their part.

One of these Marines, Sgt. Doug Harris, signals intelligence analyst with MWHS-3, was based out of Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait, last year and has only supported the Wing through his military occupational specialty.

"I provided indications and warnings to the intelligence field of any incoming missile launches," said the 34-year-old Bradenton, Fla., native. "This time I am very glad to be out here doing something other than my MOS."

Harris has been part of a large group of Marines tasked with installing Hesco security barriers around large living quarters and buildings.

"I want to get out there and help out wherever I can," he said.

Sgt. Kenneth E. Farmer, a combat illustrator on temporary additional duty from Headquarters Marine Corps, feels that the non-traditional purpose of the Marine Corps as an occupational force may not be a bad experience for the Corps.

"I think it is good the Marine Corps is here because it shows we are not just a force in readiness," said the 25-year-old Grants Pass, Ore., native. "If anyone thinks there is a reason to get rid of the Marine Corps, this should help prove that we are an asset to the country."

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