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Deployment marks first combat tour for MWHS-2

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200537113239
Story by Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis

AL ASAD, Iraq (March 7, 2005) -- Since 1955, Marines and sailors of Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2 have been performing command and staff functions necessary to accomplish the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing mission.

Although 2nd MAW has deployed to fight battles in the skies over many foreign lands since its inception in July 1941, its headquarters squadron, affectionately referred to as "The Deuce," has remained stateside, providing its support from Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C.

That is, until now.

For the first time in its 50-year history, not only has MWHS-2 deployed as an entire unit, but also to a combat zone, to support the aviation combat element of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq.

"The MWHS-2 Marines are very focused to perform professionally and swiftly on all projects that entail support for all the commands within the 2nd MAW (Fwd,)" said Sgt. Maj. Michael Closterman, MWHS-2 sergeant major and native of Hope, R.I. "They are determined to give the most accurate and complete information that is required for the completion of the missions here."

"The Deuce" is a unique unit among the squadrons of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. Comprised of more than 20 different military occupational specialties, ranging from administrative clerks and logistics Marines, to intelligence analysts and food service specialists, the Marines and sailors of MWHS-2 hit the ground running when they arrived at Al Asad air base, Iraq, Feb. 16.
"Marines are meant to deploy," said Sgt. James D. Elrod, administrative clerk and native of Hickory, N.C. "I was kind of surprised to see a headquarters squadron of this size make the trip, but this is what we as Marines do every day."

Currently, the Marines of "The Deuce" are working day and night, providing security forces to guard the Tactical Air Command Center, monitoring and tracking ground and aviation supplies and logistics, supporting the command and control of aircraft operations, communications and intelligence, and improving morale and conditions around the air base.

"I never thought, but hoped I would be doing something like this," said Cpl. Steve F. Williams, a member of the 2d MAW Band serving as command center security and native of Lancaster, Pa. "It's a very important task, and we were ready coming in."

"Considering the size of this unit and the diversity of the Marines and their mission, I am extremely proud of our Marines and sailors," said Lt. Col. Todd W. Schlund, commanding officer and native of Mount Vernon, S.D. "They take great pride in their jobs, their fellow Marines and sailors, and being a part of 'The Deuce.'"

According to Schlund, the Marines and sailors of MWHS-2 tackled the important tasks of pre-deployment training, embarkation and family readiness with great poise and professionalism, despite the fact that the squadron had never deployed this number of personnel and equipment before.

"Every section helped each other out to get us ready," Schlund said. "We all pulled on the rope in the same direction and leaned forward to get this squadron ready."

As the squadron continues to complete its mission here day in and day out, Schlund said it's the support from home that keeps "The Deuce" going.

"If it wasn't for the love and support from the people who care about us the most back home, we wouldn't be able to be out here doing what we do to make this world a better place," Schlund said. "The families are just as much a part of this as anyone in uniform."

"The Marines have surpassed our expectations with a quick and concise turn over considering the limited amount of time available, and we were up and running and full mission capable before we knew it," Closterman said. "The Marines of MWHS-2 are thoroughbreds and ready to run the race. They have the endurance to complete this mission at top running speed."

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