Keeping Corps ethos alive and well, a Yuma-based AV-8B Harrier squadron hosted their own Warrior’s Night at the air station’s Ramada Field, Sept. 27.
Marine Attack Squadron 513 Marines and sailors came together for a day of fun that challenged participants physically, as well as their notions of what Corps traditions are all about.
The history of Warrior’s Night is a bit blurry; one theory claims Viking clans from Scandinavia would gather after a raid or trading mission to celebrate their success and remember those who fell in battle. This ethos was naturally adopted by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps and eventually came to be called Mess Nights, more formal versions of Warrior’s Night.
The Flying Nightmares kicked off the event with an obstacle course run between the sections. Marines worked together to navigate the obstacles and encouraged each other, some a bit more colorfully than others.
“We’re just having some friendly competition between Marines to see which team finishes strongest,” said Sgt. Maj. Raquel Painter, the VMA-513 sergeant major. “We wanted to get the squadron together and bring them in as a cohesive unit.”
After the course, the Marines filed down to the tent where the evening’s celebration took place. Marines enjoyed some downtime until it was time to file in and take their place at the tables.
The scene had the same atmosphere of a deeply personal gathering before sending one of their own away, and in a way it was.
VMA-513 is slated for deactivation sometime next year. As the Corps moves along to create new stories, 513’s Warrior Night allowed the Nightmares to tell their own.
“Most of the Marines are going to other squadrons, so we wanted to get one more event in,” said Painter.
Harrier maintainers have some of the biggest responsibilities on station, often working more than half-day shifts to prep the station’s premier aircraft. Days such as the squadron’s Warrior Night are rare, but rewarding.
The reward came in the form of the squadron’s guest of honor during the Warrior Night, Jim Campbell, a former Marine Raider who fought in World War II.
While at the banquet, Campbell regaled the Flying Nightmares with stories from his time as a Marine, a few of which included him escaping death at the hands of the Japanese.
He also gave his own input about today’s Marines to the squadron.
“We’ve got a bunch of strong, intelligent, good-looking men here,” Campbell said.
“Sir, you are the reason men and women here are in the Corps, for the stories and history you embody,” Smith said, before presenting Campbell with a gift from the squadron: his very own swagger stick.
VMA-513 is slated to deploy with a Marine Expeditionary Unit later this year, the final adventure of one of the Corps most decorated aviation units.