With the arrival of aircraft from Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 completes a significant milestone in the redeployment from the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 21. “The Wake Island Avengers” of VMFA-211 have been deployed aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth since the end of April 2021. During the Royal Navy carrier’s initial operating deployment, VMFA-211 and the United Kingdom’s 617 squadron completed more than 1,278 sorties, flew more than 2200 hours, and conducted 44 combat missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
“Deploying with CSG-21 was a premier opportunity for our Marines to train alongside our allies and for the Marine Corps to garner valuable lessons from operating on allied shipping in a combined environment across multiple theaters of operation,” said Maj. Gen. Bradford J. Gering, commanding general of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. “VMFA-211 continues to lead the charge in F-35 training initiatives that directly enhance future warfighting capabilities of Marine aviation.”
“As the U.K. Carrier Strike Group says ‘farewell’ to our Marine Corps colleagues, I wish to thank them for their commitment, loyalty, professionalism and great humor,” said Royal Navy Commodore Steve Moorhouse, U.K. CSG-21 Commander. “The achievements on this deployment have been ground breaking and raised the bar in terms of integration. As the saying goes, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go strong, then go together.’ Semper Fidelis.”
During the deployment, VMFA-211 conducted exercises with more than ten partner nations and allies, landed 5th-generation aircraft on flat-decks of three separate nations, and validated modern ordnance capabilities. Additionally, they were the first F-35B squadron to deploy as a 10-jet squadron as outlined in the Commandant’s Planning Guidance. In addition to the supporting the U.K.’s return to carrier strike, VMFA-211 learned from the proud traditions and experience of the Royal Navy. Whether conducting maintenance on aircraft in the hangar, flying integrated divisions in support of multinational exercises, or sharing a meal in the mess deck, the U.S. Marines and Sailors and the Royal Navy Sailors experienced CSG-21 together.
“[Marines with VMFA-211] were tremendous representatives of the United States Marine Corps during Carrier Strike Group 21,” said Brig. Gen. Simon Doran, U.S. Senior National Representative to the United Kingdom’s CSG. “From the North Sea to the South China Sea, from supporting combat operations in Operation Inherent Resolve to landing on four different classes of ship from three nations, the Marines of The Wake Island Avengers embodied our core values and built on our Corps proud legacy.”
VMFA-211 disembarked HMS Queen Elizabeth at Naval Station Rota on December 2, 2021. On Dec 5, the main body personnel and equipment flew from NAVSTA Rota to MCAS Yuma. A small contingent of Marines remained aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth to facilitate the movement of the squadron’s gear back to the United States. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 (VMFA-211) is a United States Marine Corps fighter attack squadron, currently consisting of F-35B Lightning II stealth STOVL strike fighter jets. Known as the “Wake Island Avengers” and the “Bastion Defenders”, the squadron is based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona and falls under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 13 (MAG-13) and the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (3rd MAW).3rd MAW continues to “Fix, Fly and Fight” as the Marine Corps’ largest aircraft wing, and remains combat-ready, deployable on short notice, and lethal when called into action.