“We needed to get all this equipment down here: fuel bladders, arresting gear, tents and everything we need to run the airfield for our MAG-12 fixed wing aviation while also supporting Navy helicopters,” said Major Matthew Halbert, the airfield operations company commander and Tinian officer in charge for Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, MAG-12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “The airlift proved to be a great asset and the landing is a unique thing here; it proves a 747 can come into Tinian and showed everybody what you can do with this airfield.”
Any questions about the durability and size of the runway were answered as the 747 rolled down the taxiway under a setting sun and a full moon.
“The runway was pretty much the same length as (Marine Corps Air Station) Iwakuni’s,” said Peter Pecenicic, the captain of the airplane who has 21 years of experience flying 747s. “This airport could land jumbo jets and not have a problem.”
As the plane was being unloaded, some members of the local Tinian community gathered along the fence line to get a better look at the massive airplane parked on their runway.
“MAG-12 is always anxious to train on Tinian because the people of Tinian are very welcoming, they are very appreciative, and very accommodating,” said Major Jonathan Kehr, the logistics officer for MAG-12. “These people are always very interested in what the Marine Corps is doing on their island.”
The goal of Forager Fury, which is scheduled to continue until Dec. 19, is to allow MAG-12 to demonstrate their ability to generate significant combat power in an expeditionary environment and also build relationships with the local community.