To the editor:
In the spring of 1988, I was given the opportunity to help put together a Reserve Training Unit in upstate New York. Already having 10 years active service in the Marines, I could not pass up the chance . Within two months, I had orders from Illinois to New York. Along with about 30 other Marines and one Navy Corpsman, we had an operational unit by Sept. 9, 1988. Christened as VMGR-452, a U.S. Marine Corps KC-130 Aerial Refueling and Transport Squadron, our mission included assault support, aerial refueling and cargo/troop transport. In just two short years, our unit was fully operational and deployed to the Middle East for Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1990-1991.
There was very little that we could not do. In two more years, as often happens in the Armed Forces, I was transferred to another support unit in Illinois then 10 months later, to a support unit in Texas where I stayed until I retired to the Reserve component. However, VMGR-452 had a very special place in my heart because we had put the unit together with little more than token support. 452 went on to support many other U.S. endeavors to include Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On July 10, 2017, at about 1600, I was horrified to learn that one of 452's aircraft fell out of the sky, killing all 16 brave service members on board. I know the quality of these service members and we have lost some of our finest. I just thought with all the politics raging in Washington, we should honor those we have lost rather than hear the same thing about Russia every minute of each day. RIP my brothers, freedom isn't free, pray for all of our service members wherever they are.