Werewolves howl back into Fightertown

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By Cpl. Justin M. Boling

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 returned after nearly three weeks aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.

The squadron provided close air support for ground units during Exercise Enhanced Mojave Viper.

“The exercise simulates a realistic combat environment,” said Maj. Jeremy Seigel, the squadron’s operations officer. “It was great preparation for our upcoming deployment.”

Exercise Enhanced Mojave Viper is held at and supported by Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. The exercise allows all elements of a Marine Air Ground Task Force to train in a realistic environment to be capable of completing their missions in combat.

“Our mission was mainly combat support with a little bit of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance,” said Seigel, a native of Lake Zurich, Ill.

The exercise allowed pilots to practice these skills above the same Marines they may one day support during combat.

“We function as the ground unit’s eye in the sky,” said Seigel. “Rovers placed in ground units can view the live video feed we provide to mitigate hazards.

“We also get rid of any threats that keep ground units from advancing through the exercise.”

The squadron logged more than 400 hours of flight time and completed more than 230 flights. Squadron maintainers worked around the clock to ensure aircraft readiness and complete numerous missions and objectives.

“The maintenance performed at EMV is done at a sprint like pace,” said Chief Warrant Officer Justice Haggard, the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 maintenance material control officer. “There is really no better baptism than by fire for a young maintainer to experience.”

Haggard, a Huntsville, Ala., native, is responsible for managing all parts and any scheduled or unscheduled maintenance conducted on the squadron’s F/A-18 Hornets.

“This exercise is extremely ordnance critical and the ordnance Marines were at full sprint the entire time,” continued Haggard.

The aviation ordnance Marines supported more than 115,000 pounds of ordnance being loaded and dropped on targets throughout the three-week exercise.

“We supported 100 percent of our mission due to the hard work of our maintainers,” said Seigel. “Ground units have to have confidence in our ability to employ ordnance.”