U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Benjamin Q. Blas Jr., powerline division chief with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 and a native of Guam talks about his experience during Cope North 19. PUBLIC DOMAIN
Two Marines with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 returned to their home island of Guam as part of Exercise Cope North 2019, a multinational exercise in Guam from Feb. 16 to March 8.
The Marines were part of a contingent of more than 2,000 U.S. Airmen, Marines and Sailors who trained alongside approximately 850 Japanese and Australian service members during the annual exercise, which is designed to strengthen multilateral partnerships, sharpen lethality and improve interoperability in the Indo-Pacific region.
“When you join (the Marine Corps), you miss home. It feels great that I’m still doing what I wanted to do back home while still doing my job and I get to see my family,” said Staff Sgt. Benjamin Q. Blas Jr., powerline division chief, VMFA(AW)-242.
“Coming back to Guam as a Marine is a little different,” said Lance Cpl. Daelankris H. Alviz, plane captain, VMFA(AW)-242. Originally born and raised in Guam, Alviz spoke about how much he had matured since becoming a Marine and how his family notices the difference now that he has returned as part of Cope North.
Cope North is a multilateral U.S. Pacific Air Forces-sponsored field training exercise conducted annually at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The exercise focuses on the employment of combined air forces in combat and mobility air forces training in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to enhance interoperability among U.S., Australian and Japanese forces.