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Capt Bridger Leary in the cockpit of a AV8B of VMA-223 Sqn
Capt Bridger Leary USMC
Capt Bridger Leary on Operations with 3/8 Marines USMC
T1 Hawk – 736 NAS
T45 Goshawk


Published: 28 Jun 2016

A pilot from the United States Marine Corps (USMC) has begun a three-year tour of duty with the Fleet Air Arm at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose.


Captain Bridger Leary USMC joined 736 Naval Air Squadron to fly the British Aerospace’s (BAE) Hawk T1 as one of their staff pilots. He will be part of the team who regularly fly attack profiles against NATO warships, undergoing Operational Maritime Training with Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) in the South West Approaches.


Bridger grew up in New England on the east coast of America and has most recently been stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, with 3rd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment, serving as a Forward Air Controller. During the past year with 3/8 Marines he was part of a Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (Africa), occupied in crisis response. He worked alongside Department of State personnel in embassy reinforcement.


Since taking up flying duties, he has served 4 years as part of Marine Attack Squadron 223 (VMA-223) and has experience on the US version of the Harrier in the form of AV8B Harrier II and the T45 Goshawk, which is an adapted BAE Hawk used by the US Navy & USMC.  Very similar to the 736’s Hawk T1, the Goshawk has been modified and beefed up with a strengthened undercarriage and arrester hook, making it  highly suitable for aircraft carrier flight deck operations.


“I’m really looking forward to learning about all the cultural differences”, said Bridger, who is married with two very young children. “Everyone in Helston is so friendly and being so very close to Europe, we hope to travel as much as possible.”


Adapting quickly to their new surroundings and Cornwall life, Bridger and his family have bought a small car to deal-with the narrow Cornish lanes and numerous roundabouts near to RNAS Culdrose.


“Driving on the other side of the road is what I would call a challenge; my wife has yet to take to the wheel, but it shouldn’t be a problem,” continued Bridger. “We are really pleased to be here, soaking up all this magnificent scenery and very Grand Houses around Cornwall. Some are even older than my country!”


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