Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 deployed for training to Royal Air Force Marham in the early evening of September 3, 2020. Pilots from the “Wake Island Avengers” flew more than six F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona to MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina, and then onto RAF Mahram. VMFA-211 is training with UK’s 617 Squadron at Marham in preparation for next year’s inaugural, global deployment onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth as part of Carrier Strike Group 21.
“During this training we will conduct realistic, relevant training to validate our digital interoperability and joint tactics, techniques, and procedures,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Freshour, the commanding officer of VMFA-211. “The Wake Island Avengers will work tirelessly alongside Squadron 617 to develop and hone our mission skills to deploy as a combined naval force. The U.S. Marine Corps has a longstanding special relationship with the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines. We work closely with our British allies to make sure we can work and fight side by side in any clime and place.”
Conducting realistic and relevant training such as a DFT is essential to maintaining readiness and lethality. Over the next two months VMFA-211 will participate in NATO exercise Point Blank, train with the HMS Queen Elizabeth and participate in Exercise Crimson Warrior. The Wake Island Avengers, RN and RAF will integrate throughout training, validating the services ability to operate jointly and seamlessly with regard to aircraft carrier operations and maritime power projection.
“It has been a busy three months for the Wake Island Avengers, ” Freshour, said. “COVID-19 presented a unique challenge but didn’t stop the Marines from dominating a recent joint exercise in Nevada, packing more than 240,000 pounds of equipment and stepping off for this DFT. I am proud of the Marines and looking forward to participating in the special relationship our service has with the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.”
Before the DFT commenced, all Marines, Sailors and civilians assigned to VMFA-211 conducted a two week restriction of movement period at MCAS Yuma. Additionally, every member of the squadron was tested twice for COVID-19, first at the start of the ROM and again before departure. All hands trained and prepared for the movement while following COVID-19 procedures, such as practicing social distancing and wearing face masks or coverings.
While serving as part of a UK Carrier Strike Group, VMFA-211 will utilize innovative strategies to combine efforts and resources while collaborating on complex mission sets to maintain our Nations’ global maritime military advantage. The Navy-Marine Corps team is humbled and proud to represent the United States and continue the special partnership with the United Kingdom in support of shared security.