News: Marines assist Blue Angels, follow their dreams
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. — Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 Marines lent a hand to assist the Blue Angels crew members with the preparation of their KC-130T Hercules, ensuring the demo team’s success during the 2012 Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point “Celebrate the Heritage” Air Show.
“We have a tie with the Blue Angels,” said Master Sgt. Raphael D. Leingang, the VMGR-252 maintenance control chief. “Several current and former members of this squadron were Blue Angels. So we made sure that we supported them in every way possible during the show.”
The Blue Angels is a naval aviation demonstration team established in the 1940s to raise the public’s interest in naval aviation and boost morale. The team is comprised of service members from almost every echelon of Navy and Marine Corps ranks.
“Most people don’t even know Marines fl y airplanes,” said Capt. Aaron J. Harrell, a Blue Angels team member and KC-130 pilot.
The Blue Angels crew consists of approximately 111 Sailors and 17 Marines.
“Working with the Blue Angels is an amazing experience,” Harrell said. “A lot of the sailors on the team have never worked with Marines or a C-130 crew before, now they have the chance to help show the world the capabilities that we posses.”
Harrell, who joined the Blue Angels November 2011, said his responsibilities include working with air traffic control personnel to resolve air space issues and piloting the team’s C-130s.
“There a lot of Marines on the team, so we share duties and job responsibilities,” said Harrell. “It’s cool because we all have the opportunity to crosstrain and learn how to do different jobs.”
During the air show the Blue Angels performed coupled with a KC-130T Hercules, affectionately known as “Ernie,” and six F/A-18 Hornets. Ernie was a place holder performer for “Fat Albert”, which was sidelined due to annual maintenance.
“We had a great show with no complications thanks to the VMGR-252 Marines that were on the ground supporting us,” said Harrell.
VMGR-252 is the Corps’ oldest continually active squadron, relying on its 240 enlisted Marines and sailors and 50 officers to operate and maintain 12 tactical aircraft to help execute the mission of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.
The Cherry Point based squadron provided hangar space for aircraft maintenance, towed planes to and from different locations and provided parts and equipment to support the Blue Angels.
“The C-130 community is very small,” said Leingang. “We know Marines who work with the Blue Angels crew and have some Marines in the squadron who aspire to join the team.”
Leingang went on to say Marines in the squadron assisted with maintenance while other Marines took advantage of opportunities to ride on flights during the air show.
Staff Sgt. Joshua M. Samuels, with VMGR-252 maintenance control, said he enjoyed being strapped in on a C-130 flight.
“I’m glad I got to go up in Ernie, I wanted to support the team by coming out to the air show and meeting maintenance and aircrew personnel,” he said.
During the flight, the crew demonstrated maneuvers used in actual combat situations.
“The flight was almost like a roller coaster ride,” said Samuels. In a ten minute time span the passengers experienced several maneuvers such as a low transition and maximum effort climb and an assault landing.
Samuels hopes to be a Blue Angel one day and recently applied to become a flight engineer with the team affectionately dubbed “Fat Albert Airlines."
“I would love the opportunity to go out in the community and show people what the Marine Corps C-130 has to offer,” he said. “I hope to recruit people into the Navy and Marine aviation field. It is the best job I’ve ever had.”
Date Posted:05.11.2012 14:36
Location:MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, NC, US
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