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Military

Lancers maintain air supremacy

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200541312125
Story by Lance Cpl. Lukas J. Blom

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan (April 13, 2005) -- Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni has many tenant units, many of which call southern Japan home for only a few months. There has only been a single squadron that has been continually at the fingertips of station commanders for nearly a decade.

The Lancers of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 212 play a unique role in station operations. Acting as the only permanent squadron who employ aircraft aboard the station, the Lancers continue to be an integral piece of the Station community.

Born in 1942, and initially dubbed the Hell Hounds of VMF-212, the Lancers hold a distinguished history of aviation superiority. Fighting with the “Cactus Air Force” at Guadalcanal and Okinawa in F4U-4 Corsair aircraft, the Hell Hounds were one of the most feared units in World War II. They were credited with destroying more than 132 aircraft and countless tons of shipping equipment.

For their efforts in the Guadalcanal and Okinawa campaigns, they earned two Presidential Unit Citations.

With the new designation of Marine Attack Squadron 212 in 1951, the Devil Cats, the Lancers predecessors fought valiantly in support of the 1st Division’s battles at the Chosin Reservoir.

Receiving the name that is still inscribed on each aircraft today, the Devil Cats were renamed the Lancers in 1965 when they sailed to the coast of Vietnam.

In 1972, the Lancers were awarded a Meritorious Unit Citation for their efforts in Vietnam.

They later earned the Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award, Robert M. Hanson Award and another Meritorious Unit Citation during their numerous deployments to Japan and the West Coast.

In 1988, the Lancers received the aircraft in which they still employ to this day, the F/A-18C. The F/A-18C Hornet is an improved model of the single seat F/A-18A, while incorporating provisions for employing updated missiles and jamming devices. The C model also has improved night attack capability, more powerful engines and new radar.

Since the Lancers are the only permanent squadron aboard the station, the Marines of VMFA-212 have a one-of-a-kind opportunity - the chance to live overseas and experience a foreign culture.

“Being over here I get the opportunity of a life time to experience a new culture,” said Lance Cpl. Gustavo Monterroso, VMFA-212 flight equipment technician. “One of the biggest benefits of being a part of this squadron is the places I’ve been able to deploy to; Guam, Hawaii, Kadena and Australia.”

Although the Marines of VMFA-212 take advantage of the unique opportunity of being over here, they never lose sight of their mission.

“We’re here to defend U.S. interests in eastern Asia,” said Sgt. Dennis G. Deppen. “To prepare ourselves for that, we participate in many exercises throughout the year.”

The Lancers continue to prove their aviation prowess and continually write new chapters in their history, whether fighting the War on Terrorism or training at some remote island in the Pacific, the Lancers continue to live up to their motto.

“Train to fight, fight to win.”

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