“The Workhorse of Wing” was activated in June 1986 from elements of Marine Air Base Squadron 14, Wing Transportation Squadron 27, Wing Engineer Squadron 27 and Headquarters & Headquarters Squadron 27. Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 (MWSS-271) assigned the primary responsibility for operating and maintaining Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field (MCALF) Bogue, NC. This responsibility required the Squadron to provide Aviation Ground Support (AGS) to both rotary and fixed wing aircraft on a daily basis from an Expeditionary Airfield (EAF). The Squadron also provides AGS to 2d Marine Aircraft Wing (2d MAW) units in garrison at MCAS Cherry Point, NC and during worldwide deployments.
In August of 1990, the Squadron provided critical items of combat essential equipment and 80 key personnel to Marine Aircraft Group 40 (MAG-40), 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (4th MEB), for deployment aboard amphibious shipping to Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in Southwest Asia (SWA). In December 1990, the Squadron deployed to SWA and received equipment from the Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) at King Abdul Aziz Naval Base, Saudi Arabia. Once equipped, the Squadron established and provided sustained aviation ground support at a Forward Arming and Refueling Point (FARP) at Al Kabrit, an airbase at Tanijib, a Forward Operating Base at Ahmed Al Jaber and assisted with restoring the airfield services at Kuwait International Airport. The airbase at Tanijib eventually supported aircraft from MAGs 13, 50, 26 and 16, and on 29 January 1991, aircraft from Tanijib, supported coalition forces during the battle of Khafji. The Squadron began to retrograde to CONUS in April 1991, with the last of the Squadron elements arriving home on 15 June 1991.
February of 2003 found elements of MWSS-271 returning to SWA in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. As war with Iraq appeared imminent, the Squadron began the year deeply involved in contingency planning and embarkation preparation. The Commanding Officer and other key planners deployed to Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait, in early February to conduct more detailed operational planning. The Squadron’s advanced party arrived one week later and received the mission to establish an expeditionary camp in the northern Kuwaiti desert. With a few Marines and a host of borrowed equipment, the Squadron created a 31 acre fortified camp, dubbed Camp Workhorse, that would support as many as 3200 Marines and Sailors and become the pre-war staging area for all 3d MAW ground units. Upon commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom, MWSS-271 crossed into Iraq and established three FARPs and one Tactical Landing Zone (TLZ) enroute to its objective, An Numaniyah. Five kilometers west on An Numaniyah, MWSS-271 established FOB Three Rivers, installing a 440,000 gallon fuel system; airfield lighting for a 9600-foot runway with taxiways; M-21 arresting gear for recovering tail hook aircraft; a mobi-mat MEDEVAC HLZ; and a water production point with over 50,000 gallons of storage capacity. Additionally the squadron coordinated security for the FOB inclusive of an adjoining LSA operated by the 1st FSSG. The Squadron conducted 10 tactical recoveries of downed aircraft, line hauled fuel for 1st FSSG, and conducted resupply convoys to Division and other Wing elements. While continuing to operate Three Rivers, the Squadron established two FARPs IVO Tikrit. On 28 April, the Squadron began retrograding with the final complement of the Squadron arriving home on 17 June 2003.
The Workhorses returned to Iraq in February 2005 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 04-06, providing Aviation Ground Support to units assigned to 3d MAW (Fwd) and 2d MAW (Fwd) at Al Asad and Al Qaim. The Squadron kept pace with sustained combat operations by providing over 145,000 gallons of aviation fuel per day, and enhanced the force protection of Al Asad by emplacing over 30 miles of HESCO barriers and repairing the main water lines to the base. The Squadron returned to Cherry Point in September 2005 having played a pivotal role in establishing Al Asad as the premier base for Marine aviation ISO OIF.
In March 2007 the Workhorses returned to Al Asad and Al Qaim in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08.1. The surge of combat forces into the cites required MWSS-271 to construct and maintain HLZ at new combat outposts. Additionally, AM-2 HLZs were constructed at enduring bases to support the introduction of the MV-22 Osprey into theatre. The Workhorses supported the President of the United States visit to Al Asad in 2007 by conducting security escorts, establishing a NBC decon site and refueling Air Force One. MWSS-271 provided over 28 million gallons of fuel, traveled over 250,000 miles, disposed of 200,000 ordnance items, and surveyed/repaired over 7,000 square feet of runway/taxiway surface prior to returning to MCAS Cherry Point in Sept 2007.
Upon return, the Workhorses built the station CVOT course, installed M-31 arresting gear and 800,000 sqft of matting at MCALF Bogue and manned, equipped and trained a provisional military police company for deployment with 1st Battalion, 12th Marines. In February 2008, the squadron deployed a 24 man detachment to Kandahar Afghanistan to install AM-2 parking ramps ISO of the 24th MEU.
In March 2009, MWSS-271 deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom 09.1 as a reinforced squadron, responsible for all aviation ground support in the MNF-W area of operations. The Squadron main was at Al Asad, with AGS detachments at Al Taquaddum, Sahl Sinjar and Korean Village. As part of the drawdown of forces, the support group had redeployed with one squadron, leaving MWSS-271 to fill the responsibilities for the group and two squadrons. Attached to Marine Air Control Group 28, the Workhorses provided sustained AGS while inventorying and retrograding over 50% of all on hand items, and recovering AM-2 matting from all outlying bases.
The Squadron’s engineer platoon also provided route clearance support to MNF-W as the first squadron to ever employ a route clearance team, clearing over 8500 miles. The Squadron returned to Cherry Point in October 2009 and resumed AGS responsibilities of MCAS Cherry Point and MCALF Bogue.
The “Workhorse of the Wing” has had Marines participate in numerous exercises and operations to include: Joint and Combined Exercise Roving Sands in 1995, Joint and Combined Exercise Purple Star, Operations Uphold Democracy in Haiti during 1996, 1997, and 1998. Operation Sea Eagle in Cuba during 1996, Joint Exercise Strong Resolve in 1998, Operation Allied Force, Shining Hope, and SOUTHCOM Exercise New Horizons-Nicaragua in 1999. During 2000 and 2001 the unit participated in Exercise Dynamic Mix, SOUTHCOM exercises New Horizons Trinidad-Tobago and Paraguay, as well as Exercise Carolina Thunder. They have supported SOUTHCOM counter drug missions with the construction of two K-Span hangars in Barbados. Marines from MWSS-271 deploy in support of East Coast Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU) and Weapons and Tactics Instructor’s (WTI) Courses annually.
In concert with providing the finest Aviation Ground Support to the 2d MAW, Workhorse Marines have provided their time and talent to the local community for various community service projects, from building roads and baseball fields, to demolishing outdated dams along local rivers. Workhorse Marines have also volunteered in local schools tutoring students and completing small construction projects. In July and September 1996, MWSS-271 spearheaded the efforts both at MCAS Cherry Point and MCAS New River to clean up after Hurricanes Bertha and Fran.
September of 1999 had the Workhorse at the ready again as Hurricanes Dennis and Floyd pounded the North Carolina coast. The efforts of Workhorse Marines extend far beyond our local boundaries as well. Providing EOD support to the FBI, transportation support for athletes and officials, and engineer support to construct shelters, the Squadron supported both the 1996 Summer Olympics and Special Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. EOD Marines have also provided support to the Secret Service for the President and Vice-President of the United States as well as Pope John Paul II and the General Assembly of the United Nations. Unit Awards Include: Presidential Unit Commendation Streamer, Navy Unit Commendation Streamer, National Defense Service Streamer with one Bronze Star, Southwest Asia Service Streamer with three Bronze Stars, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Streamer, Global War on Terrorism Service Streamer and Iraqi Campaign Streamer with three Bronze Stars.