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Nightmare Scrapbook For February, 2002|
The Thirteenth Month Of Command
Back From Air Warrior . . .
From mid-January until early February, the Nightmares
exceeded sortie goals and executed so much Close Air Support of mechanized infantry that it
truly became routine.
Our pilots were performing night-into-day operations in support of the Army at Fort Irwin,
accommodating the realities of an ever-changing battlefield situation.
Exposure to ABCCC and JSTARS assets made this successful deployment even more valuable.
Simultaneously, the rear party was able to qualify our newest pilots in day shipboard operations
in concert with LSO training. Marines serving in our maintenance and logistics departments
excelled during dual site operations and we experienced increases across the panorama
of organizational skill sets. The transfer of "Zieg" to assume command of VMA-311 resulted
in a decline by one in some high-value skill sets, but our two prospective WTI students
(who passed their air combat tactics instructor examinations) will more than compensate.
In mid-February, our Marines participated in block training of infantry skills because, despite
highly technical specialties, Nightmares are riflemen first. As waves of our Marines fired M-16's
at the rifle range, others performed essential aircraft maintenance and configured the aircraft
for advanced new precision weapons capabilities (these startling tools will undoubtedly be
featured in TV news broadcasts during the war against terrorism). Marine Weapons & Tactics
Squadron instructors arrived to evaluate Critter and Jolly and to certify them as the community's
newest tactics instructors. Most notably,
these developments have been punctuated by regular opportunities for fun and comradery that make
the Nightmares a tight, well-oiled machine. "Esprit is to numbers as three is to one."
Departing our MEU Detachment's assigned aircraft carrier at dawn
Looking back at the garage
Departing was beautiful, but not sad!
Time To Change An Engine
The plan is to lift the wing off of the fuselage . . .
. . . and set it carefully on the castered wing stand
The upstairs window where the Cow often perches
Getting out of the chocks
Sidewinder missile, pointed at Maintenance Control
Torch ferries Steroid's jet out to Air Warrior
Steroid waits patiently for Torch to correct a fuel imbalance
Steroid smiles because he has Torch's jet
Stacking up the wings outside . . . .
In the last week of January, the Nightmares were flying between 25 and 30 sorties per day. It's
maintenance pay-back time!
XO and CO at work . . . kind of.
An unsung hero of our squadron--the Administrative Officer!
Wizard and Stroker "bounce" at Aux-II
Lots of beach, but hardly any ocean . . . .
. . . . which is good if you screw it up!
Critter tries to balance the demands of his ACT(I) check and duties as QA Officer--and look how bushy-tailed he is!
On 19 February I was
transiting our hangar bay as contractors were supervising the training of ordnance and avionics
Marines from multiple Harrier squadrons on a new targeting pod. Known as the Litening II, this
addition to the Harrier's bag of tricks allows us to provide a laser designation or an infrared
designation while filming areas of interest from great distances. After 11 September, delivery
of these (and other) systems was accelerated--and for good reason.
First, the pod cannister is lifted to the pylon
Loading the targeting pod on station three
A rear view of the pod
Corporal "K" tightens the lugs
Zak energizes the pod to test the optics
The pilots are being issued new laser visors to protect vision
Two pods are loaded for instructional purposes
Rest easy America, the Nightmares are on duty!
We're just kidding, Gunny "D" -- congratulations!!!
Former Nightmare Smurf (current CO of VMAT-203), joins us for Gunny D's ceremony
Fair winds and following seas, Corporal Kizer!
Every month, the CO takes all the squadron's Staff NCO's out to the local micro-brewery for a
"Rudder Steer." This is where he gets candid feedback from his enlisted staff advisors
and learns about incipient problems before they would normally hit his radar screen. One can
learn a great deal about the good, the bad and the ugly after a few rounds of truth serum....
On 22 February, Screech passed 2,000 Harrier hours mishap-free, the CO passed 4,000 flight
hours mishap-free and the Flying Nightmares collectively passed 43,000 hours mishap-free; the
best safety record in the history of V/STOL.
On 26 February, the CO received orders to the National War College
of Pakistan. Command shall be relinquished on 7 June 2002.