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Rolling Down the Strip: Photo Essay

21 Jan 2003 | Capt. Dan McSWeeney 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

KC-130s are the aerial refueling variant of the legendary American military aircraft. Known commonly as "Hercs," for Hercules Models, the four-prop birds can carry up to 60,000 lbs. of fuel, either for their own use or for refueling other aircraft in mid-flight.Recently, a KC-130 forward-based in Bahrain in support of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) conducted a cargo re-supply mission during an exercise in the Central Command Area of Responsibility.These photos portray a variety of images of the noble, hard-working Herc. The aircraft pictured was built in 1964, making it older than most of the Marines who fly it. The bird is in excellent condition."We're out here, doing what the MEU needs us to do to accomplish its mission," said Maj Hugh Worden, of Brattleboro, VT, an active duty pilot who flew the aircraft while these photos were taken.Worden and his squadron-mates are serving with VMGR-452, Detachment A, which consists of two airplanes. VMGR-452 is a reserve squadron based in Newburgh, NY whose unit nickname is "The Yankees." The detachment's other bird is from VMGR-252, an active duty squadron based at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC (nicknamed "Otis"). Together, members of both squadrons have informally taken on the designation VMGR-652.Many members of the squadron also served in Afghanistan last year, taking on the nickname "Rhino Cowboys" for their flying in support of ground operations there."I'm glad to be out here," said Sgt Justin Stover, a Marine reservist from Rochester, VT. "A lot of us were mobilized last year and were sitting around, waiting for orders. Then this opportunity came up.""This deployment has special significance for us. You could actually see the smoke from the World Trade Center from our tower in Newburgh after September 11th," he said.Known world-wide as a premiere platform for parachute operations and passenger and cargo transport, KC-130s like the one portrayed here will serve the Marine Corps for many years to come.