2014-07-28 By Robbin Laird
During my visit to 2nd Marine Air Wing in June 2014, I had a chance to meet with several of the members of the VMGR-252 squadron.
In this interview, Major Mark Montgomery, a KC-130J pilot, discussed his experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He deployed in Iraq from 2006-2008 and then in Afghanistan in 2012.One of the things that has always amazed me over the years in discussions at 2nd MAW is how matter of fact the Marines I have interviewed are.
You talk with them and in the course of the conversation accomplishments are mentioned not really highlighted as amazing achievements.
It is a striking contrast to Inside the Beltway where one is constantly reminded of the importance of whomever you are talking with, notably at seminars.
In this case, Major Montgomery highlighted one key difference between Iraq and Afghanistan. “In Iraq, we largely supported Marines; in Afghanistan we supported Marines, Aussies and Brits because our AORs were next to each other.”
With regard to the Aussies, the squadron provided various types of support such as transport of troops and Harvest Hawk Close Air Support.
With regard to the Brits, Major Hamilton mentioned an incident where they were tasked to provide Battlefield Illumination in support of a British Forward Operating Base.
“We received the tasking, and the crew was airborne very rapidly with 100 flares on board and we operated over the objective area for 8 hours and was able to support what the JTAC wanted in that situation.”
Major Montgomery underscored that the close working relationship among the crewmembers is what made the flexibility and rapidity of re-tasking work.
“We worked with the same group of guys and you learned to do things together rapidly.”
A difference in operating the Harvest Hawk configuration was highlighted by the pilot.
“In our normal mission sets, we are taking troops or equipment to a certain point and dropping off or operating airborne to provide tanker support.
With Harvest Hawk you are loitering to determine a strike position which needs to be VERY precise and in response to the demands from the JTAC.”
He also highlighted the importance of battlefield illumination and the various ways they operated in support of the forces on the ground with BI.
“We did terrain denial, deception through faints, and direct support for insertion of helicopters and Ospreys.”
For other interviews concerning the KC-130J conducted during the 2nd MAW visit see the following:
For a video which provides a look at a live fire exercise of the Harvest Hawk see the following:
Credit:Marine Aircraft Wing Combat Camera:3/20/13