By Cpl. Joseph Abrego , Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan
MCAS IWAKUNI, YAMAGUCHI, JAPAN -- style="margin-top: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px;">U.S. Marines with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 152 departed Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, upon completion of unit-level training Evergreen and headed home to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Aug. 28, 2017.
The rigorous training between the VMGR squadrons, U.S. Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and U.S. Army 1st Special Forces Group served as VMGR-152’s 2017 Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation.
“The first week going into Evergreen was very aggressive due to agreements we had with the other units involved,” said U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Nikko Melonas, the ground training officer with VMGR-152. “As we went on, the operations tempo slowed down, but we were able to get a lot of valuable training in.”
Melonas added that it proved to the higher command that the squadron’s aircrew and maintenance shops can maintain and support high tempo operations.
Training with different units allows Marines to adapt to diverse training styles and overcome new situations.
“It is always helpful when we are able to incorporate different units into our training plans,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Colin Handlen, a KC-130J Hercules crewmaster with VMGR-152. “It allows us to see how others operate and how we could possibly change our methods for the best outcome in any situation.”
Handlen also said that working with other units allows them to resolve any friction that arises for a smoother outcome in future operations.
Among learning various training styles and creating common ground with units from another branch of service, VMGR-152 also gained many qualifications from Evergreen.
“We were able to log about 180 hours of flight time during the training,” said Melonas. “In doing so, we completed a lot of the necessary qualifications for our pilots and aircrew. There were 21 total qualifications which included: a division lead, flight lead standardization evaluator, pilot and a crewmaster air delivery instructor.”
Keeping Marines qualified allows the squadron to maintain a high level of readiness and the ability to act in any situation if necessary.
“We look forward to continuing our work with the other continental U.S.-based VMGR squadrons as well as helicopters for air-to-air refueling and air deliveries,” said Melonas. “Continuing unit-level detachments such as Evergreen keeps the Marines ready to fight tonight and win.”