Enduring Freedom Vets Deploy

Saying goodbye.
Saying goodbye.

Squadron VMFA  251 from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort will soon join other troops in the Middle East. These Marines and sailors were deployed once before in the war on terror: the Thunderbolts deployed the week after September 11 to participate in Operation Enduring Freedom. Now, less than a year later, more than 200 Marines and sailors with VMFA 251 said goodbye to family and friends before heading to the Central Command Area of Operations in the in the Middle East as part of the war on terrorism.

If Saddam doesn't disarm, the Thunderbolts say they're ready for the President's call.

"Hope and pray there's still a peaceful way out of this, but there's going to have to be a day he's going to have to be dealt with," Capt. Rob Gallagher told us. "I'm just glad I'm going to be a part of it."

And being a part of the action is something the Thunderbolts know all about. They deployed to Afghanistan aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt to destroy Taliban targets as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"I joined the squadron three weeks before we left for Operation Enduring Freedom Cruise, so this is kind of a second rehash for me," Capt. Gallagher said.

And this deployment could mean back-to-back combat for these Marines and sailors.

"They've got all the potential to be absolutely successful again, and I fully expect they will be," Col. Dave Peeler said.

"I just feel real comfortable with this squadron, cause I know they've done it before," added Capt. Matt Walker.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com