CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa, Japan --
Marine Wing Support Group 17 officially deactivated during a ceremony at the field house at Camp Foster June 4.
MWSG-17, formerly part of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, deactivated in accordance with Marine Corps Bulletin 5400, that was released June 1, that dictates all MWSGs throughout the Marine Corps be deactivated.
“This is a significant day in history for the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing,” said Maj. Gen. William D. Beydler, commanding general of 1st MAW. “The downsizing of the Marine Corps has reached the Pacific. The 1st Marine Aircraft Wing is getting a little bit smaller. We are losing one of our five major commands.”
The former subordinate units of MWSG-17, Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 and 172, will now be assigned to different groups, according to Gunnery Sgt. Genette D. Prather, an embarkation chief with MWSS-172, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st MAW.
MWSS-171 will now fall under Marine Aircraft Group 12, located at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, and MWSS-172 will now fall under MAG-36, located at MCAS Futenma.
The wing has known about the deactivation for two years, according to Beydler.
“For 59 years, our Marine Wing Support Group has made us unique, made us different,” said Beydler. “We are not just another air force, but the aviation combat element for III MEF.”
MWSG-17 was activated in 1953 in Itami, Japan, right after the Korean War as Marine Wing Service Group 17, according to Col. James M. Gannon, the commanding officer of MWSG-17. Later, it was redesignated as Marine Wing Support Group 17 in 1968 and relocated to MCAS Iwakuni. In 1979, it was relocated to Okinawa.
Elements from the group have supported Operations Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Iraqi Freedom and played a role in Operation Tomodachi, according to Gannon.
“Last year, MWSS-172 had a forward arming and refueling point operating in Yamagata Airfield in support of Operation Tomodachi within 48 hours of being tasked,” said Gannon. “We also had Marines up in Sendai in support of the operation.”
Operation Tomodachi, meaning “friendship” in Japanese, was the U.S. Armed Forces actions in response and support of the Japanese people following the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 2011.
Gannon made sure during the planning of the deactivation that the wing did not lose one ounce of combat readiness, according to Beydler. He ensured that MWSS-171 and MWSS-172’s operations will be absorbed into the MAGs.
“We provided aviation ground support to the wing,” said Gannon. “The ACE needs its own aviation ground support to generate combat power, and I’ve seen that in the last couple of years in Iraq and Afghanistan and here in the Pacific.”
The Marines and sailors of MWSG-17 are a great representation of that and they do it very well, according to Gannon.
“We have met and exceeded the standards and we have been ready every time we have been called upon, and it’s because of the effort, motivation and innovation of these Marines and sailors.
“Even though the group deactivated, we have preserved the aviation ground support that allows the ACE to be combat ready and operational (at any time or place). I don’t think there is any other military or air power that can do what Marine aviation can do,” said Gannon.