Right now, about half the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort is deployed as part of the war effort, and those still home are increasing their training pace incase just in case they get called too. The sailors with Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 82 fly over Beaufort each day as they prepare for a scheduled deployment aboard the USS Enterprise, but that deployment could come sooner than expected now that war is heating up.
"I'd much rather be over there," Lt. Tom Winkler said.
"We want to be there to lend a hand, but it's their turn in the barrel, and we'll be there to relieve them," added AE1 Darrell Westgate.
Although this squadron isn't in the heat of the Middle East right now, it was involved in the first stages of Operation Enduring Freedom. In fact, just a week after September 11, the Marauders deployed aboard the USS Roosevelt, flying combat mission in Afghanistan.
"I was proud to do it," said Westgate. "I know a lot of Americans wanted to get over and do it, and we were just fortunate to be the first group over there."
"It was a real honor for us, we were really thrilled to be a part of it," Lt. Winkler said.
And now, after kicking off Operation Enduring Freedom, these Navy sailors are supporting the fellow Air Station Marines who have been called to protect our country over in the Middle East.
"I'm glad that they're doing their job," said Winkler. "We've got a lot of good friends in those squadrons."
They have not received any deployment orders yet, but they are scheduled to deploy by the end of the year. That could come sooner, and they have stepped up their training just in case. They'll actually be replacing the crew aboard the USS Roosevelt, which is now out in the Persian Gulf.