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Thu, Oct 09, 2003

A 'Serious Marine': VMA-223 Pilot To Receive Award

A Marine from Marine Attack Squadron 223 will receive the General Holland M. Smith Award for Operational Competence at a Navy League award ceremony today, October 9.

Maj. Thomas Gore, a pilot with the squadron, will receive the award for extraordinary effectiveness in achieving and maintaining the highest state of combat readiness throughout 2002 while serving as training officer, director of safety and standardization, and weapons and tactics instructor.

"It's definitely an honor; it's an honor for the entire squadron," Gore said. "All the officers worked extremely hard, and nothing could be made possible without the diligent work from the maintenance shops."

Gore exceeded all goals for readiness, combat efficiency, tactical proficiency, and technical skills despite being tasked in a demanding training schedule.

"The work tempo went up here due to pilots leaving for boat detachments, new duty stations, and to the fleet assistance program," he said. "With all these pilots gone during the summer, we didn't have enough instructors who were needed, and made things even busier for us."

Against a backdrop of thinning material and personnel, Gore was still able to prepare pilots for all advanced qualifications with the AV-8B Harrier II and provide support to sister squadrons and allied units as well, according to Lt. Col. Todd Schlund, executive officer of VMA-223.

Gore's versatility was demonstrated repeatedly as commanders continually place him where they need his expertise. He was continuously on the cutting edge of weapons technology and development, and quickly became the 'go-to' Marine for new ideas and futuristic thinking.

He enhanced offensive air support doctrine and execution through innovative approaches to night systems, close air support, joint, and combined operations while maintaining unwavering combat training standards for the Bulldog Marines, Schlund also mentioned.

The squadron accumulated more than 3,200 hours of mishap-free flying and was named the Marine Corps Aviation Association's Marine Attack Squadron of the Year and also the recipient of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Ground Safety Award for 2002.

"This award was achieved by a greater contribution than just one person," he added. "This is something that is on behalf of the whole squadron. One Marine can't be his own squadron; it is my heartfelt belief that an award like this is actually a representation of the cumulative work achieved by the entire squadron. Without our maintenance department's superb work, the professional dedication of our S-shops, and the willingness of the other attack pilots in this squadron to train hard. This award could have gone to another equally deserving officer from a different squadron, but it was the combined work of everyone else in VMA-223 that has allowed me to accept this award." [ANN Thanks Cpl. Nathaniel C. LeBlanc, MCAS Cherry Point]

FMI: www.usmc.mil

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