Operation Lightning Strike

6 Aug 2020 | Lance Cpl. Karis Mattingly 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

The operation consisted of Marines with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines and 3rd Marine Division, taken to a landing zone by MV-22 Ospreys and CH-53E Super Stallions to engage and destroy a notional enemy. MWSS-172’s role was to provide the Forward Arming and Refueling Point to expand the combat radius and allow aviation ground support closer to the objective.

“The importance of the event was to remain proficient in our supporting role while maintaining strict compliance with all COVID restrictions,” said Master Sgt. Octavio Ortiz, a fuel chief with MWSS-172. “Even with such restrictions, the Marines proved that the mission can be accomplished and remain ready to ‘Fight Tonight.’”

Key supporting elements of the training were MWSS-172, Marine Air Control Squadron 4, Expeditionary Airfield Services, Expeditionary Firefighting and Rescue, and Air Traffic Control.

The aircraft carrying the Marines were provided with support by MWSS-172 with fuel to carry on with the mission. MACS-4’s role was to communicate with the mission commander when the aircraft landed at the FARP, and to confirm when the mission was completed.

“The Marines were able to adapt to the harsh weather and overcome the different obstacles that had risen during the operation and think of solutions on their own,” said Cpl. Eliecer Echavarria, a point operator with MWSS-172. “By the end of the operation the Marines were able to learn something new and that is what makes it a successful operation.”
The purpose of the training was to prepare and teach Prospective Weapons and Tactics Instructor course students. WTI course is a seven-week period of instruction that incorporates Marine Corps planning and implementation of advanced air and ground tactics through a series of escalating evolutions in order to produce certified Weapons and Tactics Instructors.

The FARP was an overall success because of the Marines and sailors’ hard work and determination to stay mission ready.

“The operation was successful because we were able to meet the mission requirements with Marines that were willing to push 110% during the entire operation,” said Echavarria.