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  • 17
  • Jan
  • 2018
"Knights" prepare for battle

By Cpl Daniel Auvert and Cpl Jake McClung, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, the "Black Knights," deployed as part of the aviation combat element (ACE) for Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Jan. 10.

SPMAGTF-CR-CC’s mission is to conduct crisis response, contingency operations and theater security cooperation to enable missions supporting Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve and other operations in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of operations.

“The squadron’s whole purpose is to support those ground troops that are actually in the fight,” said 1st Lt. Steven Flores, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron (MALS) 11 detachment officer in charge for VMFA-314. “Being able to pick up a deployment like this is what the squadron trains for; it’s the kind of mission that pilots want to get when they first start flying.”

While on the deployment, the Marines will maintain F/A-18 Hornets and keep them operationally capable of offensive air support, anti-aircraft warfare, assault support and aerial reconnaissance. Without the maintainers, VMFA-314’s mission would be impossible, added Flores.

“There’s a lot of trust between Marines on the ground being able to call in air support from Marine aviators,” said Flores. “It goes a long way and gives them confidence knowing they have Marine support wherever they are.”