25-Apr-2023 Source: US Army
U.S. Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll received a visit from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 (VMM-268), a Hawaii-based helicopter squadron, for a community engagement April 8, 2023. Kwajalein residents toured the squadron’s MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and met with crewmembers.
Ahead of the event, team members worked to coordinate visit details with USAG-KA’s Chief Warrant Officer 3 Alex Brown, Lt. Col. Ben Jackson, and members of the Kwajalein Flight Ops crew. The USAG-KA command team provided additional support to ensure the safety and security of the visitors and community throughout the visit.
Though the flight to Kwajalein is unique, it is by no means the longest VMM-268 flight on record. Writing for the USMC in 2017, Cpl. Robert Sweet reported on a first, historic transatlantic flight made by the squadron to Australia.
Kwajalein Atoll was welcome sight after the flight from Hawaii, said VMM-268 Capt. Sean Becker, at BAAF.
“I think it’s the first time for us to make a transition crossing to include this island,” he said. “We are extremely thankful to have a place to land.”
During their engagement time, VMM-268, known as the “Red Dragons,” welcomed island residents of all ages. They answered technical questions and shared their military experience with several of the island’s senior high school students.
“It’s one of those special opportunities,” Becker said, of the engagement. “There’s nothing classified or sensitive on the aircraft. We’re allowed to meet the general public here with a little bit of preparation and work to share a unique aircraft.”
The Ospreys were a welcome sight for Veterans and contract personnel residing on Kwajalein. Accompanied by family members, many pointed out the three-blade proprotors in compact configuration, and other distinctive features, while sharing stories of working with and around the planes during their prior service.
Following the engagement, Becker said the island community showed its hospitality to his squadron mates. Several were invited on fishing excursions and got to enjoy a day of golf, snorkeling trips and the chance to relax and explore the island. He said VMM-268 appreciated the opportunity to visit Kwajalein and hopes they will be able to return.
As a parting gift, after takeoff on April 11, the Red Dragons treated the community to a flyover before disappearing into the skies.