TINIAN- Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands --
Servicemembers participating in Exercise Geiger Fury 2012 achieved another historic hallmark by landing a KC-130J on Baker runway, a runway which hasn’t been used for more than 60 years, on North Field here, May 30.
“This has been a great improvement in readiness for us,” said Lt. Col. Michael C. Taylor, commanding officer of Marine Wing Support Squadron 171. “Tinian is a new location. The Marines are excited about it and it has a lot of historical tie-ins as well, so this is very significant. Compared to most other exercises, we’re employing the majority of our capabilities here on Tinian during Geiger Fury.”
Along With Marines and sailors who watched as the KC-130J made its descent on to the newly-repaired runway, airmen viewed the momentous occasion as well.
“We were invited by Lieutenant Colonel Taylor to observe operations and look at future chances of joint Marine Corps, Air Force operations,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Bill Percival, director of operations for 36th Mobility Response Squadron. “What the Marines have done to this airfield is nothing short of amazing. Looking at the photographs prior, showing where there was so much vegetation and in a short time, you guys made it into a useable (landing zone), extending the capabilities you can bring to the fight. That in itself is impressive.”
The Marines who spent the past weeks transforming Baker into a suitable runway for landings took time after the plane touched down to pose in front of the now famous aircraft, the propeller blades still spinning and kicking up dust behind the proud group.
“To take a surface which has not been used in so many years and have a team come in and make it into an assault-capable landing zone is just phenomenal,” said Percival. “It says a lot, not only for Marine Aircraft Group 12’s capabilities, but it also speaks a lot for the Marines.”
While Exercise Geiger Fury has focused on military achievements, such accomplishments would not be possible without the support of the local community.
“I am very grateful for the Marines coming to Tinian,” said Ramon M. Dela Cruz, Tinian mayor. “We love having the Marines here. Tinian is a very historical site and it has been waiting for the Marines to come back and follow in the footsteps of their forefathers.”