Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron Answers Call
(June 15, 2011)
|CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan (MCN - 6/12/2011) — The commanding
officer of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269
received a phone call from his higher headquarters in May.
More attack helicopters were needed to support Marines and
their coalition partners in southwestern Afghanistan in
preparation of the fighting season.|
Cpl. Justin A. Maze, a crew chief with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269, and a native of Parkersburg, W. Va., watches as an AH-1W Cobra launches for flight on Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan, June 6. Almost 100 Marines and sailors with HLMA-269 deployed out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C. The squadron will provide close air support to Marines and their coalition partners on the ground in the Regional Command Southwest area of operations in southwestern Afghanistan.
Within a few weeks of receiving that phone call,
the squadron disassembled its AH-1W Cobra attack
helicopters and loaded them onto several cargo
airplanes headed for Afghanistan's Helmand
“The intent for us departing so
quickly was to arrive in theater prior to the
fighting season kicking off and having more
close air support assets in theater,” said Lt.
Col. Allen D. Grinalds, the squadron commanding
officer, and a native of Augusta, Ga. “The
compressed timeline [four weeks] from
notification to departing the states was very
So with limited notice, nearly
100 Marines and sailors with HMLA-269 departed
their homes at Marine Corps Air Station New
River, N.C., for a scheduled seven month
deployment to Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan.
“It's been a really quick process of getting
ready, deploying and finally getting here,” said
Sgt. Maj. William Sweeney, the squadron's
sergeant major, and a native of Loveland, Colo.
“But as Marines do, we accomplished the
Sweeney explained that the squadron's mission during the
deployment will be to support ground troops and bring every
Marine that deployed with the squadron home safely. |
"I want to make sure that we do everything that is asked of
us out here and when that's finished to bring every Marine
home," said Sweeney. "That's what we are here for, to
support everyone on the ground."
deployment the squadron will provide intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as close air
support and escort flights in support of Marine Corps,
coalition and Afghan National Army operations.
of our flights are to just let our presence be known," said
Grinalds. "When Cobras are over head, things tend to get
The squadron could only bring a small
detachment of Marines with it to Afghanistan, so Grinalds
said he had to make the decision to leave more than three
quarters of his squadron behind.
"Every Marine on
this deployment raised their hands to come here," said
Sweeney. ”Every single one of the Marines wants to be here.”
After just a week at their new home in Camp Dwyer,
Grinalds said the squadron is settling into its deployed
routine and adapting to their new duties.
deployment is going really well so far. I want to do
anything I can to help the guys on the ground," said Lance
Cpl. James Stokes, an aircraft ordnance technician with
HMLA-269, and a native of New Bern, N.C. "The best part of
the deployment is feeling like I'm a part of something
bigger than myself, of course I miss my family back in the
states, but this is where I'm supposed to be."
very confident in my Marines. We worked very hard to get to
this point," said Grinalds. "The mindset of my Marines is to
take care of each other and accomplish the mission. They all
feel very fortunate to be here and don't look at it as a
sacrifice but rather as an honor."
Article and photo by USMC Cpl. Samantha H. Arrington|
2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Fwd)
Marine Corps News
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