MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- More than 400 Marines and Sailors of Marine Wing Support Squadron 374 departed from the Combat Center Tuesday and Wednesday for the unit’s second deployment to Iraq. The squadron will call Al Anbar province home for the next seven months as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The “Rhinos” conducted multiple exercises aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., in recent months to prepare for this deployment. One of the main missions of the squadron in the combat zone will be the establishment and operation of forward arming and refueling points, or FARP.
“The basic concept of these sites is to allow aircraft to refuel and reload armaments so that they do not have to go back to the main airstrip,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Russell Johnson, officer-in-charge of Fuels Platoon, Airfield Company, in an interview while training in Yuma. “This way, the pilots can get right back into the fight to support the grunts without missing a beat.”
Deployments can sometimes be difficult on families who remain behind, and can lead to added stress and strain. There are several organizations aboard the Combat Center that offer assistance to families of any deployed Marines and Sailors. One of the best places to turn is the Information and Referral Center, which can provide answers and referrals to basic problems and questions. The center is manned from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Their toll-free phone number is 1-877-727-5300.
Gunnery Sgt. Erik M. Steele will serve as the MWSS-374 Family Readiness Officer for the duration of the deployment. As the FRO, Steele serves as the direct liaison to the unit in Iraq for the family members. The duty phone number to reach him is 760-830-8712, Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. After business hours families can leave a message and expect a prompt response.