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VMFA-323: death rattlers afloat.

Constellation (CV 64) began her 21st deployment in November 2002 with a familiar mission ahead: Operation Southern Watch. Then, from her station in the Arabian Gulf, she became a key player in Operation Iraqi Freedom, a fitting end note for the carrier's final deployment before decommissioning.

Among the carrier's jet squadrons, one stood apart as the sole Marine Corps squadron on board. The Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323 Death Rattlers, MCAS Miramar, Calif., flew the F/A-18C Hornet from Connie during two previous Operation Southern Watch deployments. The "Snakes" flew numerous strikes during their third deployment with Connie and the subsequent war in Iraq.

While the carrier's May return to her West Coast home port marks the end of the squadron's service on board Constellation, the men and women of VMFA-323 are certain to continue the proud tradition described by their motto: "Come to fight, come to win."
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Author:Leland, Wendy
Publication:Naval Aviation News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2003
Words:148
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