A battle color ceremony was held Friday at MCAS Miramar to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron, otherwise known as “The Raiders.”
From its formation on April 1, 1943 as Marine Utility Squadron 352 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, to its current designation as Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 352 at MCAS Miramar, the Raiders have played a crucial role supporting Marines worldwide.
“This is particularly important because of the history this squadron has,” explained Brig. Gen. Rick A. Uribe, I Marine Expeditionary Force deputy commanding general. “It is one of the only assets that supports every arm of the [Marine Air-Ground Task Force].”
Uribe, who served with VMGR-352 as a second lieutenant in 1993, and later as the commanding officer from 2006-2008, explained the prominence of the squadron’s history.
“It supports the [aviation combat element], the ground and the logistics — and 75 years of that is significant,” Uribe said. “It has supported virtually every operation and every conflict since World War II, so that’s why it’s important.”
Lt. Col. Ryan C. Pope, commanding officer of VMGR-352, delivered the keynote speech for Friday’s event, which included current members of the squadron and veterans from the Vietnam era to the “Global War on Terror.”
“These gentlemen, these Marines shaped this squadron to make it what it is today,” Pope said. “Their efforts, their personality, their drive; they earned us the reputation we carry forward.
“The hallmark of VMGR in general — and specifically the Raiders — is that ‘can do’ attitude,” Pope continued. “Any time, any place, we will support — we will always find a way. That legacy that has been built by those whose shoulders we are standing on is still alive today and hopefully we’re honoring those who have gone before us.”
More than 30 veterans attended the ceremony from all over the country, including retired Master Sgt. David Rodriquez who served with VMGR-352 from 1980-1998 as a loadmaster.
“It just brings back memories of all the people who came before me that were my mentors,” Rodriguez said. “Then, I was a mentor to others, and now I’m looking back and seeing the fruits of my labor and their labor.”
KC-130J flight simulators, static displays on the airfield and a barbeque provided entertainment for Marines, veterans and their families. Five KC-130J Super Hercules from the squadron provided a ceremonial formation flight marking the ceremony’s conclusion.
“It’s important to have veterans out here from the unit for numerous reasons,” Uribe added. “It’s a time when those who have gone before us can come back, we can share some stories, share some laughs and maybe some tears; but to have that relationship between the old and the new is extremely important.”
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