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Nightmare Scrapbook For February, 2002


The Thirteenth Month Of Command

Back From Air Warrior . . .

Jolly is one of Cow's favorite warriors!

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 detachment's assigned aircraft carrier at dawn
Departing our MEU Detachment's assigned aircraft carrier at dawn

Looking back at the garage
Looking back at the garage

Departing was beautiful, but not sad!
Departing was beautiful, but not sad!

Time To Change An Engine

First, we drive a crane into the hangar . . .

Hey, watch where you're going!

The wing is connected to the fuselage by only six bolts

The wing must be removed before we can get to the engine
The plan is to lift the wing off of the fuselage . . .
. . . and set it carefully on the castered wing stand

No room for errors

Marines direct each wingtip with tethers

The wing is now centered over the stand

The attach points are secured

Mission complete
The upstairs window where the Cow often perches

Only one window looks down on the hangar bay

Get back to work!

We made a new Lance Corporal on 1 February!

We also made four new Sergeants

Torch checks his brakes as he leaves for Air Warrior

Getting out of the chocks

Master Arm switch is off!

Sidewinder missile, pointed at Maintenance Control

Torch steals Steroid's jet

Torch ferries Steroid's jet out to Air Warrior

Steroid waits patiently for Torch to balance the fuel in his drop tanks

Steroid waits patiently for Torch to correct a fuel imbalance

Steroid loves to fly

Steroid smiles because he has Torch's jet

This means that there are two canoes in the hangar

Stacking up the wings outside . . . .

Not another engine pull?
In the last week of January, the Nightmares were flying between 25 and 30 sorties per day. It's maintenance pay-back time!

Two canoes

XO and CO at work . . . .
XO and CO at work . . . kind of.

The Admin Officer who makes it possible for the CO and XO to play
An unsung hero of our squadron--the Administrative Officer!

Cleared to land!
Wizard and Stroker "bounce" at Aux-II

Landing at the imitation ship's deck out in the desert at 'Aux II'
Lots of beach, but hardly any ocean . . . .

Ready for takeoff
. . . . which is good if you screw it up!

Critter can handle the load . . . we think.
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.

The SATS loader lifts the pod
First, the pod cannister is lifted to the pylon

From box to pylon
Loading the targeting pod on station three

It doesn't look very deadly
Deceptively benign-looking

A view from behind
A rear view of the pod

Securing the pod
Corporal "K" tightens the lugs

Testing the optics
Zak energizes the pod to test the optics

Laser energy danger
The pilots are being issued new laser visors to protect vision

Two pods loaded--just for practice
Two pods are loaded for instructional purposes

Rest easy America, the Nightmares are on watch!
Rest easy America, the Nightmares are on duty!

Cow examines the USMC pin that came with an Ordnance Gunnery Sergeant's reenlistment
We're just kidding, Gunny "D" -- congratulations!!!

Gunny D's reenlistment
Former Nightmare Smurf (current CO of VMAT-203), joins us for Gunny D's ceremony

Our Maintenance Chief Reenlists!

Another family reenlistment in the Nightmare Room

A great Marine leaves with a medal
Fair winds and following seas, Corporal Kizer!

Our Rudder Steer Morale
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....

Gunny 'P' gets a stroke

A hug from the Sergeant Major...

Beware of Taz!

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.

The few, the proud . . .

On 26 February, the CO received orders to the National War College of Pakistan. Command shall be relinquished on 7 June 2002.