Photo Information

Capt. Mark Couvillon taxis an AV-8B Harrier aboard USS Makin Island here Nov. 23. Couvillon serves as a pilot with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Units aviation combat element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 (Reinforced). The unit embarked USS Makin Island, USS New Orleans and USS Pearl Harbor in San Diego Nov. 14 to begin a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific and Middle East regions.

Photo by Cpl. Gene Allen Ainsworth III

Harriers participate in joint exercise

20 Nov 2011 | Sgt. Elyssa Quesada 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

AV-8B Harriers, F-15 Eagles and F-22 Raptors participated in a joint air-to-air exercise over Oahu, Hawaii, here Nov. 20-22 during the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s first port visit of its seven-month deployment.

The exercise marked the first time Harriers with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 (Reinforced) and Raptors with the Hawaiian Air National Guard’s 19th Fighter Squadron trained together.

Pilots were exposed to different platforms and exercises that complemented each aircrafts’ support, improving overall interoperability, according Capt. John D. Dirk, a Harrier pilot with the Marine squadron. Dirk is a 31-year-old Fort Worth, Texas, native.

The integration training included a large-force exercise that included within visual ranger basic fighter maneuvering.

“The training definitely improved in the air-to-air arena, and the type of realistic training we received increased out air-to-air proficiency and overall capability,” said Marine Harrier pilot Capt. Patrick Wherry, 30, who hails from Seattle.

The squadron is the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s aviation combat element, which embarked USS Makin Island, USS New Orleans and USS Pearl Harbor in San Diego Nov. 14, beginning a deployment to the Western Pacific and Middle East regions.

Marine Corps News

Colonel Thomas M. Siverts
Commanding Officer

Colonel Tom Siverts is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1989. He achieved a commission as a Second Lieutenant through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program following his graduation from the University of Virginia in May 1999. Colonel Siverts has deployed in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. His other operational deployments include serving with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/8, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU); BLT 3/8, 22d MEU; BLT 2/8, 26th MEU, and Task Force 61/2.

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Lieutenant Col. Steven M. Sprigg
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LtCol Sprigg was born in Parkersburg, WV. LtCol Sprigg enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in September 2004 and recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. LtCol Sprigg was selected for the Enlisted Commissioning Program and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in March 2008. He was designated a Naval Aviator in February 2011 and reported to HMLAT-303 for training as an AH-1W pilot. LtCol Sprigg is currently serving as the Executive Officer for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Camp Pendleton, California.

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Sergeant Major Travis L. DeBarr
Sergeant Major

Sergeant Major DeBarr enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported to MCRD San Diego, CA, for recruit training in October 1994.Staff Sergeant DeBarr completed two combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2005 to April 2006 and again form March 2007 to September 2007. While serving with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, First Sergeant DeBarr completed one combat deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from October 2012 to May 2013. Sergeant Major DeBarr currently serves as the Sergeant Major for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

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11th Marine Expeditionary Unit