Third Time's A Charm: New York Marines, aircraft deploy in support of OIF

25 Aug 2004 | Cpl. Beth Zimmerman

Sergeant John Fergerson and his wife Rachel celebrated their first wedding anniversary two months ago. Now, like many other Marine Corps families, they will spend half of their second year of marriage away from each other."This is the first time he's leaving since we've been married," said 20-year-old Rachel. "But I'm proud of him," she said with quiet intensity as she held her husband's hand. "These guys are who America stands for."Sergeant Fergerson seemed much more nonchalant than his wife. "This is my third time deploying in two years," said the 22-year-old. "But I don't mind going. This is our job."Marines from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 452 (VMGR-452) deployed from Newburgh, N.Y. in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom yesterday.Fergerson isn't the only one with a sense of déjà vu. "This is this squadron's third deployment," said Chief Warrant Officer Tim Noble, Administration Officer for Marine Aircraft Group 49, Detachment Bravo, at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh. Reserve Marines from VMGR-452 were activated for Operation Enduring Freedom in January 2002, and they deployed to Bahrain last year. The unit maintains and flies KC-130T Hercules aircraft, which makes them an important resource for the Marine Corps. "We're extremely excited to do our part," said Maj. Andrew Barr, Executive Officer for MAG 49, Det B. "The Marine Corps' KC-130s play a vital mission in the Middle East." The Corps uses the KC-130s for aerial refueling and transportation. "Since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom, we've had planes supporting Marines from all over," said Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Dixon, MAG 49, Det B Sergeant Major. Since then, the squadron has transported more than 3 million pounds of cargo, distributed more than 3.5 million pounds of fuel in aerial refueling, and transported over 3,000 passengers in the Middle East. VMGR-452 has also transported rescued prisoners of war from Iraq.As part of a reserve unit that has taken such an active role in overseas operations, the squadron's Marines have spent more than their share of time away from home."They're sacrificing time with their families and their (civilian) jobs," said Noble. "But they are doing it for the Corps," said the Lake George, N.Y., native. "And they're doing it because they want to."Lance Cpl. Joel Pasqualino, a reservist from Johnstown, N.Y., left for his second deployment with the squadron. "I enjoy deploying," said the 23-year-old student. "I get to work with ordnance over there," he said. "I can't do that in New York."Sergeant Jason Jones also left for the second time. "It's round two," the 27-year-old native of West Kingston, R.I., said calmly. "We all train for this, so the next thing to do is just go out and get it done."The Marines have plenty of support from their families. Jones' family traveled from Rhode Island to send him off. "I'm nervous and excited for him," said Debbie Murphy, who is Jones' mother. His sister, Keri Jones, finished her thought. "He's doing what he went into the Marines to do." This group of VMGR-452 Marines have the next six months to do their part in the war on terror."We're doing the right thing there," said Cpl. Jason Christofferson, as he hugged his wife Erin goodbye. "I'm looking forward to doing my part and serving this country."
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