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T-Bolts return to Iwakuni, leave for Korea

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 3/21/2004

Story by Lance Cpl. C. Alex Herron

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan(March 19, 2004) -- The Thunderbolts of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 returned to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, March 7, after the conclusion of Exercise Cope Tiger in Korat, Thailand.

The closing ceremonies for Cope Tiger took place Feb. 27 with the host nation of Thailand along with Singapore and the United States. Marines from the Station and Airmen from Elmandorf Air Force Base, Alaska, represented the United States.

"The ceremony was a fitting end to a successful detachment," said Lt. Col. Thomas "T.C." Clark, VMFA-251 commanding officer. "Cope Tiger was very good for morale and the squadron as a whole. For the past two to three years, we have been going through challenging combat-oriented deployments. From the boat to Kuwait, we have first term Marines who have done nothing but combat deployments."

Many of the Marines enjoyed their time in another country and experiencing different cultures, said Lance Cpl. Scott Adkins, VMFA-251 embarker.

"We all had fun seeing the sights and doing things we would not normally do while in the states," Adkins said. "It was nice to get out of the cold weather of Iwakuni and into a more tropical climate."

Along with the off-duty experiences, the Marines were also able to work with the other countries to see how they train.

"I liked the way the Thai's trained," said Capt. Joe Yoskovich, VMFA-251 powerline officer. "The Singaporeans liked to concentrate on the things they did well, while the Thai's were more interested in getting better at the things they hadn't quite mastered."

Upon their return to Japan, the T-Bolts did not waste any time continuing with their deployment schedule. Five days after their Iwakuni homecoming, the T-Bolts left for Yechon, South Korea, for two weeks of training for Exercise Foal Eagle.

"The austere environment will be good training using the Marine Corps command and control structure," Clark said.

The T-Bolts will be going through a different style of training while in Korea, besides the major differences in climate and day-to-day life, the flying will also be different, according to Clark.

"Thailand was very warm and Korea will be very cold," Clark said. "Other than the daily operations, we will be working on air-to-surface training as opposed to Thailand, where we primarily worked on air-to-air scenarios."

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