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Ceremony marks formal transition from AV-8B Harrier to F-35 Lightning II squadron at MCAS Cherry Point

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(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jailine L. Martinez)
File photo: A U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier assigned to Marine Attack Squadron 542 flies over Bodo, Norway during Fjord Fury, June 6, 2018. Exercise Fjord Fury is designed to conduct combined training with NATO allied forces, foster relationships with host and partner nations, and improve the squadron’s combat readiness.

Marine Attack Squadron 542, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing is holding a re-designation ceremony on Thursday at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, marking the transition from an AV-8B Harrier squadron to the Marine Corps’ first East Coast operational F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter squadron.

The F-35 is a fifth-generation fighter jet with advanced stealth, agility and maneuverability and provides the pilot with real-time access to battlespace information. Officials say it is designed to meet an advanced threat, while improving lethality, survivability, and supportability.

VMA-542 activated in March 1942 and participated in every major conflict for the United States since then, including World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War and the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kelly Batchelor hails from the small crossroads community of Cabin in Duplin County in eastern North Carolina. Since 1989 Kelly has been actively employed in radio.