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3rd MAW completes longest deployment in recent history

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200538181024
Story by 3rd MAW Public Affairs

AL ASAD, Iraq (03/01/2005) -- The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing has completed the longest deployment of its 62-year history.

The Miramar, Calif.-based command arrived in February 2004 at this former Iraqi air base to support Operation Iraqi Freedom II , deploying more than 13,000 service members and more than 200 aircraft over the course of the 13-month span.

Wing aircraft flew close air and convoy support missions and ground support units escorted convoys and kept aircraft well maintained and in the air.

The command was based primarily out at Al Asad, located about 120 miles northwest of Baghdad, and at numerous other Forward-Operating Bases across Al Anbar province in western Iraq. The wing saw major combat action over Fallujah in April 2004, in An Najaf in August 2004 and then again in Fallujah during Operation Al Fajr, or "The Dawn" in November.

During the second battle to destroy insurgents in Fallujah, Marine and multinational aircraft supported Iraqi security forces and U.S. Marines and Soldiers on the ground with aerial reconnaissance, precision air strikes and casualty evacuation missions.

In a two-week span, multinational force aircraft, comprised mostly of jets and helicopters from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, dropped or launched more than 500 precision-guided munitions against terrorist targets in the city.

The airspace above Fallujah was controlled by the Marine Aircraft Wing, which meant managing as many as 25 combat aircraft at a time, aloft over the urban battlefield. In this dense urban environment of nine square miles, and more than 10,000 friendly troops in action, there were no incidents of air-to-ground friendly fire.

The wing not only supported combat operations but was also integral in the success of the Iraqi election on Jan. 30, 2005. Wing helicopters and transport planes ferried more than 1,500 Independent Election Commission of Iraq poll workers to voting sites throughout Al Anbar Province, enabling the nation to hold its first free election in more than 50 years.

Active duty forces comprised most of the deployed wing, but reserve units played an integral part, deploying as a whole unit or as individual augments. During the first rotation of forces from February to September of 2004, reserves comprised approximately 10 percent of the air wing, but during the second rotation, from September 2004 to March 2005, reserve participation shot up to 20 percent.

Not all Marines will be returning with the wing. Sadly, eight Marines died while serving during the deployment and 222 were injured.

The deployment in statistics:
* 40 million pounds of cargo transported

* More than 100,000 passengers ferried across the country

* More than 75,000 flight hours flown

* Driven more than 400,000 miles for various convoy operations that carried over 61 million pounds of cargo.

* Provided security for over 5,400 metric tons of unexploded ordnance.

* Disposed of over 2 million pounds of enemy ordnance

* More than 1,000 security patrols conducted

* Pumped in excess of 25.5 million gallons of fuel to support combat operations throughout the theater.

* Executed more than 200,000 air traffic operations at the various airfields and forward operating bases.

3rd Marine Aircraft Wing has transferred the aviation authority and responsibility for western Iraq as of March 1 to 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, which is based out of Cherry Point, N.C. This is 2nd MAW's first deployment as a wing for Operation Iraqi Freedom.


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