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Marine Air Traffic Controllers Conduct ‘Voodoo Magic’ Exercise

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Alexia Lythos, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

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IEJIMA ISLAND, Okinawa, Dec. 22, 2017 — Members of Marine Air Control Squadron 4, Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, traveled here to practice their air traffic control skills during Exercise Voodoo Magic, Dec. 4-15.

Voodoo Magic, a 12-day exercise, enables participants to practice constructing an airfield and complete training and readiness requirements.

Marine Corps 1st Lt. Chris Danforth, an air traffic control officer, rides in a military vehicle after establishing a flight line with his crew during Exercise Voodoo Magic on Iejima Island in Okinawa, Japan.
Marine Corps 1st Lt. Chris Danforth, an air traffic control officer, rides in a military vehicle after establishing a flight line with his crew during Exercise Voodoo Magic on Iejima Island in Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 15, 2017. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alexia Lythos
Marine Corps 1st Lt. Chris Danforth, an air traffic control officer, rides in a military vehicle after establishing a flight line with his crew during Exercise Voodoo Magic on Iejima Island in Okinawa, Japan. Establishing a Flight Line
Marine Corps 1st Lt. Chris Danforth, an air traffic control officer, rides in a military vehicle after establishing a flight line with his crew during Exercise Voodoo Magic on Iejima Island in Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 15, 2017. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alexia Lythos

“MACS-4 showed great strengths in the abilities to rapidly establish air traffic control and set up communications architecture,” said Marine Corps 1st Lt. Chris Danforth, an air traffic control officer and native of Redmond, Washington. “They were able to set up appropriate marking patterns to receive various types of aircraft.”

Independent Operations

Marine mobile teams consists of six to eight service members operating in a 72-hour environment by themselves without support. Capabilities such as this are used in field environments where there isn’t an established airfield or when taking over an existing airfield.

During combat, the mobile teams help establish an expeditionary runway to allow aircraft to land and refuel in order to keep the Marines in the fight without having to build permanent structures.

The Marines of MACS-4 were tasked with being able to take all their training and to employ that in an expeditionary environment to test their skills and capabilities.

Marine Corps Cpl. Kate Mazzone, a communications technician, secures a panel that will notify an aircraft where to land during Exercise Voodoo Magic on Iejima Island in Okinawa, Japan.
Marine Corps Cpl. Kate Mazzone, a communications technician, secures a panel that will notify an aircraft where to land during Exercise Voodoo Magic on Iejima Island in Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 13, 2017. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alexia Lythos
Marine Corps Cpl. Kate Mazzone, a communications technician, secures a panel that will notify an aircraft where to land during Exercise Voodoo Magic on Iejima Island in Okinawa, Japan. Secures a Panel
Marine Corps Cpl. Kate Mazzone, a communications technician, secures a panel that will notify an aircraft where to land during Exercise Voodoo Magic on Iejima Island in Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 13, 2017. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alexia Lythos

Mission Success

“In all the prerequisites and everything required of them, MACS-4 accomplished everything,” Danforth said. “The training that they’ve done prior to this shows that they were prepared for it, and they showed true proficiency in all of their required skill sets.”

Every two years, each deployable unit in the Marine Corps' active-duty component is required to conduct a qualification called the Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation. This is the first time MACS-4 has ever been evaluated.

“This exercise gives all the Marines out here the opportunity to prove their skill set, show their knowledge and be able to put foot to pavement to make things happen,” Danforth said. “I feel proud to be able to serve with them.”


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