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Sand Sharks Transfer Authority to Diamondbacks

US Marine Corps News

10/1/2009 By Lance Cpl. Samuel A. Nasso, Marine Aircraft Group 40

Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 transferred control of support for Marine Aircraft Group 40, Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan to MWSS-372 during a transfer of authority ceremony here Sept. 28.

Lt. Col. Matthew Puglisi assumed command from Lt. Col. David Jones as MWSS-372 took over as the aviation support squadron for MAG-40.

When MWSS-371 arrived in March, the Marines of the squadron were the first in country representing MEB-Afghanistan. During its deployment, MWSS-371 completed a more- than-2.2-million-square-foot expansion of the Camp Bastion airfield using individually laid pieces of aluminum matting 2.

"It is the largest AM2 construction in a combat zone," said Jones.

Shortly after completing the expansion of the airfield, the squadron moved on to three other projects at Camp Dwyer in the Helmand River valley.

The squadron, known as the Sand Sharks, started by constructing a landing area for Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169 followed by an assault strip for KC-130J aircraft. The Sand Sharks finished their stay at Dwyer by constructing an operating strip for unmanned aerial vehicles.

The completion of these projects enhanced the overall operational capabilities of Marines serving in southern Afghanistan, according to Jones, by expediting intelligence gathering and providing faster logistical movements of personnel and equipment.

To describe the work ethic of the Sand Sharks, Jones said they went from an attitude of "Where do we begin?" to "What can we do next?"

As the Sand Sharks head home to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., MWSS-372 will pick-up where their counterparts left by continuing the expansion of landing areas at the various forward operating bases throughout Helmand province. The Diamondbacks will also enhance refueling capabilities for MEB-Afghanistan with fuel farm improvement projects slated for several bases.

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